How to keep making music when the going gets tough
I got a whatsapp a few weeks ago from an old friend. No context, no hi. Just this:
“I want to get better at piano faster but it’s hard 😭”
I sent some voice notes with my best advice, and even followed up to see how it’s going.
This exchange sat with me. And it annoyed me.
Guys. Hear me when I say that you have infinite potential.
But the only way you’re going to reach it is to stop complaining and do the work.
Oh, did you miss the memo? Did you forget that mastering music is hard?
This is a tough love post. I love you. You know that. You know that I have your back, and you know that I want you to have fun making beats.
But sometimes you need a lil fire under your bum (and not the one that comes from eating too much curry).
Sometimes there isn’t a clever hack.
Sometimes the only thing left to do is accept that ‘this is hard’, and take one step forward anyway…
Are you going to do it?
I want to share two concepts with you that have helped me tremendously in music, business and life:
1) The Dip (Seth Godin) and
2) Parenting Yourself (Mel Robbins) or as I like to call it, becoming your own grown-ass fire starter.
Let’s start with The Dip.
The Dip is what happens in any pursuit after the initial excitement wears off and the going gets tough.
The Dip is what separates the world class from the average.
If it weren’t for The Dip, everyone would be excellent. But then excellent would just be the new average.
And so in order to become excellent you need to go over and above what the average is. This involves working through The Dip.
It involves pulling up your socks when the going gets tough and showing up even when you don’t feel like it.
The Dip is what happened to my friend after he got his piano and spent some time with it. He understood that he was going to have to put in a lot more effort before he gets the results he wants.
The only way he’s going to do that is by lighting a fire under his butt and parenting himself.
“Stop playing computer games and sit yo' ass down at the piano!”
Becoming your own grown-ass fire starter
Which brings me to our need to parent ourselves.
Parents are the ones who tell their kids to brush their teeth, stop playing computer games and "sit yo ass down at the piano!"
Parents have to push kids to do the things they don’t feel like doing but have to do in order to grow.
Like eating their veggies and wiping an extra time.
As we grow up our parents don’t oversee our every move anymore. This means it becomes up to us to tell ourselves to do the thing we don’t feel like doing but have to do in order to grow.
If you want to get through The Dip, it will be up to you to parent yourself through The Dip. You have to tell yourself to get in front of your instrument day in and day if you truly want to master it.
The secret to doing that is in knowing that it’s never going to be easy. No one is going to put that fire under your ass - except me, now. But ideally you need to become your own grown-ass fire starter.
True mastery starts with one step - the next one
My theory is that The Dip never ends, because when things get easy, we need new challenges (hard things) that will enable us to grow.
This can be excruciating news.
Or it can be exciting news. I’m excited, because this means that there is always more to learn, discover and marvel at.
So, back to the piano. Playing the piano has made me cry… a lot.
I’ve screamed, smashed things, quit, started again, cried, quit again...
I’ve literally dragged my poor hubby to more pity parties than actual parties.
So yes, mastering Music is hard. I feel you.
But for me the reward of pushing through The Dip is worth it. The feeling of my fingers flying across the keys, listening to my compositions and seeing my name roll down in movie credits all make me burn with passion, purpose, gratitude and awe.
So what separates me from the guy who whatsapped me?
Apart from a shlong, nothing! Except that I still show up to my piano day in and day out.
So the question is, are you going to show up today? Are you going to light your own darn fire? Are you going to do that hard thing that you need to do in order to grow?
I know you can do it. You’ve done great things in the past, you can do great things today. 🔥🍑 Become your own grown-ass fire starter, and get going!
Lil miss beats.