Spring has sprung and our minds turn towards summer. We start counting the days to summer. We start dreaming of days on the beach. My daughter has a count down for the number of days of school remaining. And what all this excitement oftentimes leads to is the breakdown of the habits we have spent the better part of the year developing. Practice habits. Listening habits. Study habits.
Gandhi famously said, “Words become beliefs, beliefs become actions, and actions become habits.”
Let me tell you a short musical story: The yearly lifecycle of a BMF family in their words….
In the fall we talked often of the amazing musical accomplishments that lay ahead. All that talk turned into lessons or band rehearsals or both. Each week we had fun and rewarding experiences in the BMF studios. and we started to believe that we really could do make some music with other musicians. Our confidence grew and grew with each week. And each week we began to build a routine of practicing at home: five, 10, 15 minutes a day. Some weeks were better than others, but we began to take action on our own.
Then we played our first gig!! Bam!! That felt amazing and we came back to our instruments with a whole new level of desire. Maybe we asked for songs that seemed more complex. Maybe we began stretching our practice time into 20 minutes a day. Or maybe we just started practicing three days a week instead of only one. We took action and our habits became stronger and stronger.
Then another gig… Bam times two!! The gig felt almost easy the second time around. And our confidence was soaring. For the next few weeks after the gig, life was a blast at the instrument. We played and sang through the old gig songs, and everyone in the family commented on how much fun the gigs are.
But now the weather is turning nice and the cherry blossoms are blooming. We feel confident that we can pretty much do anything on our instrument, so rather than step up to our piano and tackle the next musical challenge on our lesson notes, we step outside and run around in the sun. Rather than maintain the habits that we worked so hard to develop this year, we start counting the days until summer break.
And here’s the thing: It’s not that we don’t want to play guitar or piano or rock with our band at the final gig. It’s just that spring brings distractions. I mean, who doesn’t want to be outside every chance they can get after a long winter? All of these distractions though try to dislodge our musical habits and we CAN be running in the sun without giving up on our habits.
At this point in our story, let me point out the final lines of Gandhi’s famous quote. He goes on to say, “Habits become your character and character becomes your destiny.” And therein lies the essential missing element. What we have worked so hard on all year is building character, and music has become a HUGE part of our character. I like to substitute family culture for character, but the idea is the same. Our character, our family culture, is HUGE. And BMF families embrace music as a key element of their family culture. And more specifically listening to, improvising, and playing music with others.
SO… When the distractions start coming at us fast and furious this time of year (and they always do at exactly this time of year), we need to hold onto our music making habits. Stick to our routine. Focus on the final challenge that lies ahead. And Bam! Before we know it, we will have reached the final BMF Gig of the year. And guess what? We will finish strong, the music will be better than ever, and our confidence in our character will be HUGE.
Now that is a perfect ending to our story. And we still have our summer break right around the corner.
– by Nate, Director of Private Lessons