Mastery

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Mastery is a process. It is not a goal or a prize or a destination. One is a master of a discipline only by continuing to master it. Mastery is a life long process of learning and continual improvement. 

Andres Segovia was a master of the guitar. He practiced and studied the guitar until the very end. Segovia practiced 3 hours on the day he died. Segovia's son (who was born very late in Segovia's life) once asked his father what he did for a living. Segovia told him "I study the guitar."  This is mastery.

Kazuhito Yamashita is a master of the guitar. The stories of his 8 hour a day practicing are everywhere. When you hear him play, you do not doubt those stories. He has dedicated his life to learning the guitar. This is mastery.

Players throughout the world are masters of the guitar. They work and work every day, day after day, year after year, continuing to improve their skills, despite the fact that they are not now, and may never be concert players. They work and improve and teach and write because of simple love of the music and because of a desire to learn. This is mastery.

You will always hear differences in the abilities of various master players because each master player brings a unique set of talents to the table. One is strong where another is not. Put Manuel Barrueco in a jazz quartet, count off an up-tempo rhythm changes tune and you will not get a great result. Put him in an intimate room with his classical guitar and you will hear magic.

"Talent" is the natural gift you were born with. Your "ability" is the result of working to develop your talent. The simple equation is: ability = talent x work

The finest players we have are those who are born with that one-in-a-million gift, and who then spend their lives developing their gift. Their gift is golden. But, this does not mean that the work of other masters is of any less value. Often, those whose gifts are "just" silver or copper or stainless steel make tremendous contributions through their mastery -- perhaps they play music that is uniquely beautiful, or write a book that helps others to learn to play, or write music that many other players enjoy.

You can not change your talent, but you can improve your ability by working. If you apply your work wisely, your ability will grow even more rapidly. If you work consistently and wisely over a long enough period of time, constantly working to be the best player you can be, this is mastery.

 


      

2002 - 2016, Tim Berens
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