Music Teacher's Helper Blog

“The Music Lesson”

“Listen, son, how old are you?” Clyde asked.

“I’m twenty-five.”

“Let’s see know. That means you’ve been alive for a little over 9,000 days. If you had a dollar for each day that you’ve been alive, you might not even be able to buy a new car. Think about that. Now let’s say you make it to fifty years old. That’s only 18,250 days. Even if you live to be seventy, you’re still only about 25,550 days old, not including leap years. A dollar a day and you still can’t buy a house. If we were to attach the same value to our days as we do to our money, we might understand how precious little time we have here on this planet.”

“Now let’s look at how many of these 25,550 days are spend doing nuthin’,” Clyde continued. “Let’s say that you sleep eight hours a day. That comes out to one day’s worth of sleep every three days, a total of 8,516 days. Subtract from that the original 25,550 and you are left with only 17,034 days. That’s fewer days than if you live to be fifty. Now add in your early years when most of your big decisions are made for you, the hours spent watching TV, time spent being sick, time spent working a job you didn’t like, and days that were just flat out wasted for one reason or another. Now, how much time do you think is left? Just a few thousand days, that’s all. And that’s taking for granted you make it to see your seventieth birthday. That’s not much time for you to become who you say you want to be unless yous learn to use yo’ mind.”

My reading list contains several books that I re-read every year. These books usually have lessons that take a bit of time to absorb, and I find the benefit comes from real repetition of the message. I’ve already visited my re-read of the “Artist’s Way” and “Zen Guitar” this year. I’m currently re-reading Victor Wooten’s “The Music Lesson”.

The first summer I read this book, I discovered that a copy was being passed around among the members of a big band jazz group I was playing with. Everyone who read it was affected by the book’s message, no matter what instrument they played. After reading my copy, I lent it out to the members of an R&B/funk/jazz group I was gigging with. The book was well received by the other members of the group, so much so that they kept it to read and re-read as well!

“The Music Lesson” is not a book of bass lessons and it is not written soley to benefit bass players. This is a book for musicians (or anyone) who is interested in growing musically, personally and spiritually. It has been favorably compared to “Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah” and “Conversations with God”. The book is an accessible but playful revelation about the relationship between Music and life. The concepts that are presented will make one pause and rethink one’s view and approach to music, and to life itself.

The first time I read this book, it really made me re-examine how I teach music and how my teachers taught music. “The Music Lesson” presents the ten elements of music. The reader will find that many of these elements are not addressed in the typical study of music theory. The book will explain why so many musicians practice for years and years but never really master playing music. It also explains why some musicians who are less technical and far less “schooled” in music can create great music. I found the book put many musical concepts derived from instinct into words; concepts I “felt” were true as a musician, but I had no words to explain those instinictual truths. The book can help lead you to big breakthroughs in playing, practicing and performance. Music educators may find new ways to inspire their students to practice, play, and perform…”or not!”

Check out “The Music Lesson”, and I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences about this book. Feel free to post your comments and start a dialogue.

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  1. John S

    Using a figure I have heard as the amount of time required to master a skill like playing a musical instrument, painting, drawing, skateboarding, watchmaking…etc., ten thousand hours spent practicing and refining your art works out to around 417 of the days we have to work with…

  2. Wendy Morgan Hunter

    I love this piece! You have just given me my read for my Spring Break. Thank you!

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