Working towards mastery.
One day, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal that said it takes about 10,000 hours of work at practicing a craft to achieve mastery at something. Then I heard it again while listening to Macklemore’s song “Ten Thousand Hours”.
I had to ask myself how many hours I had spent playing piano and figured out that I have logged in around 40,000 so far. I made it my personal goal to get to 100,000.
The amazing thing about my life’s work as an musician is that there’s always room for improvement; I can’t outgrow it.
Ten thousand hours felt like ten thousand hands
Ten thousand hands, they carry me
~ Macklemore, Ten Thousand Hours (The Heist)
When I’m preparing to play a song…
I cue up the song in my mind
Then, I attempt to render it correctly through my hands but to do that I have to practice it.
It’s not natural to intellectualize music; It’s something you feel and realize through the playing or listening of it.
For me music is mainly stories about love and life. We hear a song and are instantly connected to the story, the rhythm, the melody because it is a common experience we share in life.
After all, music comes alive in the now, in each moment. And we get to experience that “nowness” together when we’re all in one moment and the music is flowing.
What’s different about my approach?
Overall, it’s about staying true to the original melody as a theme and then presenting interesting variations of what I call musical DNA.
Musical DNA is the pattern of steps and jumps that make each song what it is and not another song with similar steps and jumps.
When I’m elaborating on the musical DNA it's like disassembling the themes and putting them back together again in new sequences, rhythms and harmony, transforming the original themes into my own co-creation with the composer’s song.
Sometimes, I imagine playing the song in front of the composer and I ask myself, would they like my version of their song?
Creativity started early
My mother taught me to make something out of nothing when I would watch her prepare a meal out of whatever ingredients she had at hand.
She instilled in me the belief that all you need is time and creativity to make something good, plus onions and garlic too. And the sheer willingness to follow through in it's creation.
That’s what I give to my music, on a daily basis.
I invest my time and give myself … and the result?
Time well spent, sure.
But the real reward is connection and music well made.
The kind of music that hopefully spreads joy, stays true, feels real, touches deeply and inspires hope and love in each person who hears it.
Before I go…
I am incredibly fortunate to play frequently with some of the best musicians I have ever met. I’d love to introduce you to them right here and now, via this short sampling of videos.