In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is. ~Yogi Berra
As you probably know from my previous blogs, my daughter plays the violin and with learning any instrument or perfecting any skill comes practice. Whether you practice hours a day or only for short periods, it is the constant incremental learning and improvement that takes the individual from one level of proficiency to the next higher level.
The problem with practice, at least for most of us human beings, is that practice can be boring. I know there should be the motivation in the challenge and joy in improvement to keep us interested and going, but that’s not always the case. Repeating the same two bars of a Beethoven Sonata can get boring. And practicing scales is every music student’s worst nightmare. We have tried to make it interesting and rewarding, but when all is said and done, it is a little boring, especially day after day.
And herein lies the problem with learning to master any skill, be it musical or other learned skill, such as leadership. Without frequent forms of real time feedback, motivation and appreciation, many very gifted students (and young managers, too) give up.
The statistics for music students is just one example. Up to the age of 11 or 12 practice and then teacher feedback is enough motivation to continue. Then, with the onset of the teen years and all the other elements in the pre-teen and teen world (friends, fitting in, school work, socialisation, TV, magazines, books, computer games, etc.) rushing in, these distractions tend to compete for time and interest with practice. And the reality is, a great percentage of potentially brilliant music students drop out between the ages of 13-17. Victims of competing interests and boring practice sessions. I have spoken to numerous adults who, looking back, are sad that they gave up the cello, or the trumpet or the piano and wish they had continued.
During this critical developmental period there is a great need for what I call, performance platforms. Opportunities for the young music student to perform in a public setting and get real audience feedback. Performance platforms can range all the way from casual recitals with friends and family all the way up to performances on stage with an orchestra. It’s not so much the size or grandeur of the performance platform, but the feedback, recognition and self-esteem that is gained from these events.
The sad reality is, there are far too few performance opportunities for young musicians. It’s mostly practice with the once or twice a year concert at school or the teachers organised student recitals. That’s not enough and the statistics show.
The principle of real time feedback and audience interaction is key to mastering many skills. Take golf for example. Of course it involves practice, but you really learn your strengths and weaknesses as a golfer when you are in a tournament or playing with others. It’s this kind of reality based experience and feedback that gives the individual the motivation and insight to keep improving, to keep practicing. Going too long between performances, with only practice, is not healthy for the full development of an athlete’s skills. Or a young musician for that matter.
We all need more performance platforms in our lives. We all need to get out and gain the feedback from reality. To see clearly where we are strong and what needs to be improved. This is doubly critical in the evolution from management to leadership. Young developing managers need opportunities to practice leadership, often. To apply their learning, theory and practice to real life situations.
Want to develop leadership and mastery in yourself and others? Find or create more “performance platforms”.
Experience isn’t the best teacher, it is the only teacher. ~Albert Schweitzer
Tight Lines . . .
PS. We have recently started a non-profit charity in the UK to provide frequent performance platforms for talented young musicians. To learn more, visit Young Virtuosi.
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