Last issue I brought up the subject of looking outside of our industry specialists as a way to gain new insight to a problem, and the problem I was addressing was the ongoing what can/should I do to keep my musical endeavors my “vocation”, specifically, what should I be focusing on beyond my immediate skills on my instrument to keep my music, my career. I spoke of looking into Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People as an alternative for new insights, listed them, and made some very brief comments. I received a comment from Ran M stating that he enjoyed the read, but would have appreciated a deeper look into these statements by Covey, with more or less musical examples. I will honor that request by looking into two of the 7 Habits a little more closely, with examples from my point of view.
Habit Three: Put First Things First
My comment was; what one thing could you do (you aren’t doing now) that if you did it on a regular basis would make a tremendous positive difference in your professional life. Obviously, this is highly subjective. Let’s start here. What in your eyes constitutes your greatest weakness as far as progressing in the industry?
(Player to player, this could be a pretty big list) Whatever that weakness may be, it needs to become your focal point. Simple example: Your technical and theoretical skills are stronger then ever, a major plus in my opinion. But 80% of your time is spent at home shedding rather then giging. So the focus becomes; why aren’t you giging more, which would be a major factor in enhancing your career, and what can you do about that? There could be many answers to this, and “that” becomes your quest, your focal point…your first priority. Find out how to get out of the room and onto the stage. [I promise you you’ll learn just as much, if not more, from your time spent on stage] More importantly, we’ve addressed Covey’s point, creating a new priority that you feel will enact positive change…First Things First.
Habit Five: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
The first musical analogy that comes to mind when I consider his point is based on a quote I’ve read from the best of the best in the creative world; Know the Domain!
This said another way would be, learn the language. For you to be able to consistently communicate and express your thoughts and ideas, and have them be well received, an understanding of the language of music would obviously be a tremendous tool in accomplishing this. Learn how the language works to be more clearly understood. That being said, listen closely; I’m not just referring to academia here! There’s much more to the “language” of music than theoretical prowess. For the record, I highly recommend the academia. But there are so many other avenues to consider as well in terms of being able to clearly and relevantly express your thoughts and ideas in a musical setting. As an example, first and foremost, the art of listening and reacting. Also inherent in that language is watching aspects of your playing such as articulation, space and rest, and other voice producing elements. First, understand the language, then be understood with the power it avails to you.
I hope these musical analogies give a little greater insight into what Covey was proposing, and I remain firm on my point. I feel stepping outside of the music realm for direction is most certainly an option to be considered for any concerned player. And by the way, Covey is just one option in a myriad of possibilities. Read, and learn.