I’ve played the guitar for 37 years now; however, I took a 35 year break and just picked it back up two months ago. For years I’d been feeling an urge to get back in to music in some form, and the final kick in the pants was watching Carl Franklin, Chris Castle, and the Womack Family Band put on an awesome show at CodeMash 2011. Their love of music and the sheer joy they had playing together really inspired me to get off my assets and do something musical again. (I’d also played trumpet for some years when I was younger.)
Because I realized how total my suckage would be, I signed up for some lessons at the awesome Piano Preparatory School in Beavercreek where my kids have been taking piano lessons for years. John Trent, my instructor is an amazing classical guitarist and a great teacher as well.
This journey over the last couple months has been an awesome practical re-re-re-reminder of why it’s so important how you approach any learning situation. I’ve spent significant amounts of time over the last couple decades teaching in various forms; however, it’s been a long time since I’ve been the student. What an awesome change of pace!
Work has been in a bad spot over the last month as we move into the final phase of a huge release we’ve been building to for nine or ten months. Couple that with kids, pets, a large yard, and a spouse who would like to see me occasionally, and it’s meant little spare time. As a result, it’s been really hard for me to dedicate 30 minutes each day to sit down and do the practice I need to.
This last week it showed. I hadn’t gotten in anywhere near enough practice on my pieces in my workbook and I was badly stumbling through a couple parts that were really challenging. John calmly and simply said, “Get the reps in.”
Four simple words tying directly back to all the things I’ve believed so fervently during my decades of instructing. Four simple words tying directly back to all the wonderful things in Chad Fowler’s tremendous The Passionate Programmer or Andy Hunt's Pragmatic Thinking and Learning.
I wasn’t doing what I’ve preached to students, subordinates, and mentorees for years: work hard at learning. If you care about something, if you’re serious about wanting to improve, you’ve got to work at deliberate practice. Mastering anything, be it guitar, running, or software development, means that you’ve got to dedicate yourself to carving out time each day to work on it.
Get the reps in.