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Editor's Notes


jake kotA few players recently went to my blog at and got back to me on my most recent subject matter with some comments and interesting questions. I decided to follow up on a couple of requests, or better said suggestions that I put this article up in the mag. I was moved that people enjoyed it, but even more moved how it actually got them thinking, which of course is my entire intent on anything I write. I hope this will make some kind of small difference for anyone spending the time to check this out, and obviously welcome any responses.

They Came to Play

I recently watched a documentary called “They Came to Play”, hosted by the Van Cliburn Foundation. 75 pianists were being judged, all vying for the top honor. What I found interesting were the comments some of them made on why they were there. To Wit: “I came here to win.” “I need the competition in my life.” “I’ll have a chance to prepare something beautiful.” I’m here to build my spirituality.” “It’s not my passion, but it was given to me as a gift and I feel obligated to play.” “Life is not a dress rehearsal, so I’m just going for it.” “The fact that I don’t rely on music for a living has enabled me to really discover myself as a musician.”

That’s right, the contestants were all amateurs. I’ve been in the music business for four decades now, and I promise you the vast majority of the listening public would never have guessed that from hearing them. They came from all walks of life…a flight attendant, an engineer, a doctor, an architect, a physicist, a tennis pro, a strategic developer for Lochead Martin, and an ex-cocaine addict.

This was obviously more than just a musical experience for these people. You could see the emotion involved. So, what can we take away from this?

***Take a close look at the phrase “follow your heart”, and realize how open and non-one dimensional that statement could be in your life by introspectively and creativity discerning your overall potential as an individual. Then access where your time might be delegated contingent on that self-realization.

***What new skills, technical, emotional, or spiritual might you acquire by creating more diversity in your existence? (Look back to the quotes on why they participated)

***One of the contestants, a doctor, made the statement; “Medicine is hard, but piano is even harder”. Sometimes, when you’re debating what to pursue, it’s good to remember that things are not always as they seem.

***Author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi quotes: It is easier to enhance creativity by changing the conditions in the environment than by trying to make people think more creatively.” I think these contestants are a stellar example of that premise. They radically changed their environment. What might you do to fit that paradigm, and change the conditions, the environment around yourself to see where your creativity might also live and how might that impact your life?

***A survey of top executives at GE and Exxon Mobil showed that they were more excited about their pet projects than their job.

Starting to see a theme here?

What I did here was simply an exercise in creative introspection, to get me thinking differently about what I experienced listening to these people and potentially draw new conclusions from it. By the way, the winner of the competition was an optometrist with four kids, and second place went to a cancer patient that lost hearing in one ear. Their playing, by any standard, was extremely moving. You might think about these individuals the next time you catch yourself in the preverbal “I just don’t seem have the time” statement. Create the time…you have everything to gain, holistically.

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