You get out of it what you put into it.
I think there is so much truth in this saying. Our perspective, determination, attitude and commitment determine so much of what happens to us in life.
My healthy optimism can’t magically create a job opportunity, but it can help me to be more engaged with what’s going on around me, maybe leading me to be in the “right place at the right time.”
The other reason I love this saying is the implication that the responsibility sits with us. I truly believe that we must take responsibility for ourselves and our lives by putting our best effort (whatever it is at the moment) into everything we do.
We create, or hinder, our own growth in immeasurable ways every day.
What brought this saying to mind recently were the juries my college students had to prepare for at the end of their fall semester. There are stringent requirements for performing repertoire, scales, sight-reading and even improvisation. They have to prepare program notes and a repertoire list as well, and all of this after a weekend of some of their biggest performances of the year, right at the beginning of final exams.
Anyone who has been a music major can relate to the insane conclusion of each semester. Those who have been through it may also be able to relate to the sense that if we ignore it for most of the semester maybe it will all just go away…yet before you know it, you’re looking at a panel of woodwind faculty waiting to hear a G# melodic minor scale.
Why is it that we procrastinate on things like scales and preparing for these difficult performance situations?
I suppose the answer could be different for all of us, but I have a theory that deep down we all avoid these things because they are hard work and we still might fail.
Learning repertoire and scales is difficult. It takes a lot of time, organization, and energy to learn new material and figure out how to get around our technical difficulties.
However, if we’re willing to put the effort into it, just like in life, there are concrete, measurable results. We can see (and hear) our improvement both in the material we are practicing and the way it shows up in other repertoire or technical study, just like you can see the impact sleeping for an extra hour or spending less time online has on your everyday life.
When I see my students avoiding their scales or half-committing to working on them, I want to remind them of all the ways sitting in the work and frustration will benefit them on the other side.
So, if you’re a high school or college student who needs to perform your scales or other technical exercises for a grade (or if you’re a working professional who performs for a paycheck!), let’s walk through what you can put in to your scales (and your life!) that will turn into long term rewards:
Identify the goal:
Get to know the material:
Practice the hard stuff:
Visualize (Mental Practice):
Share with others:
Maintain a positive outlook:
Most of us are more capable than we give ourselves credit for. We become discouraged when we can’t do something instantly or quickly, dismissing it as a failure.
Designate your goal and determine the work that needs to be done. Create a plan and commit to it. Put in the work.
And while all of that is crucial, what we have to remember is that in order to be able to DO anything we have to first be willing to TRY.
Once you’ve done the work, trust yourself. Focus on the outcome - the big picture of the exercise or piece you’ve learned - and go for it. Play for others and really give your best effort.
Show up for yourself knowing you can rely on everything you put in.
Hi, I'm Morgann! Flutist, teacher, aspiring yogini, and life long learner figuring out how to create my way through life one crazy idea at a time.