This post is about how you can grow as a musician and life in general.
It is not about running.
OK, it kind of is about running, but I’ll keep that part brief (and relevant to you)!
I haven’t been running that long, but as one thing led to another, I ended up running a marathon each of the last two years. Both experiences were very different.
The difference was the system
The difference was my plan: the first year, I pieced together a lot of advice I had collected online into my own training plan; the second year, I bought into a plan created by professional coaches.
As you might imagine, the results were very different. I managed to complete both races, but in my first marathon, I was hurting after three miles and out of gas for the last eight. In my second race, when I had trained according to a professional system, I finished strong and took 29 minutes off my personal best time!
What I learned
I learned that investing in a professional system is far more effective than piecing together free content gleaned from the internet. Let’s apply this to your musical growth.
Here are five distinct advantages of a professional system.
1. A system gives you confidence that your work will pay off.
You probably have some idea of where you would like to be as a musician, but you don’t know exactly what steps you need to take. You could say, “Well, I need to practice more,” but then you actually sit down to practice and you don’t know how to practice. So you look up YouTube videos and you might gain some insights here and there, but they don’t all work together to lead you where you want to go.
The guidance you receive from a system gives you confidence that your work is going to pay off.
When I was training for my last marathon, I was really concerned if the pace I was hoping to run in the race was realistic. But I just kept reassuring myself that the people who had put my plan together had been there, had coached a lot of people, and it inspired confidence that my work would pay off.
Having a system not only makes your practice more effective, but your sense of progress motivates you to keep going. It’s so hard to stay motivated when you don’t have that sense of progress.
2. A system sets you up to get things done.
Many times we have good intentions about practicing music, but since we don’t really plan well, it gets our leftover time and energy or doesn’t get done.
When I started following my marathon training plan last summer, it was a huge undertaking. It was four months of hard work and a lot of time on the road. It was there, planned out, and in a system. I didn’t want to mess up the system. So I got it done.
And I learned a valuable lesson that whatever I have planned out and systematized, I get done. I’ve applied it to my business, to my day job, to my personal life. When I have things in a system, I accomplish them.
3. Having a system helps you understand the why.
On your own, you can figure out some things to do, but you don’t always know why you’re doing them. You can watch a bunch of piano tutorials on youtube, but most of them aren’t going to connect the dots of why things work.
And we tend to take that approach because our typical response when we encounter a hurdle – whether it’s a new chord or a song to learn – and we find the easiest way over that hurdle. We need to slow down and understand the why to really grow. A system – with different components working together – builds connections that help you understand the why.
4. A system will nudge you to do the types of things you need to do.
I’m guessing that you’re reading this because you want to see yourself, in a few weeks, being a better ______ than you are now. You want to do things that you’ve never done.
To do things you’ve never done before, you have to do things you’ve never done before.
I looked at some of the workouts toward the end of my marathon plan and thought, how am I ever going to do this? At the end, I was supposed to run twelve miles fast – before work on a Wednesday. I had never done that, but it was what I needed to do to run the way I wanted to. Because the workouts were in the system, I got them done.
Having a music learning system works the same way. You have to practice things that you’ve never done before if you want to get better.
5. Having a system that you’ve paid for means you’re invested.
The internet is full of lots of free plans and information to do just about anything. But let me tell you, when I had a training plan that I had paid money for, I had an investment in that system. I had used plans I had found for free, but I could give up on them without losing anything. When I had paid, I didn’t want my money to go to waste, I had made an investment.
A system for progressing on piano
If you are ready to invest in a system for improving on piano, a really good one to check out is Fluent Piano. It’s a system that will lead you logically from one step to the next and give you confidence that the work you’re putting in will lead you where you want to be as a musician.
If you would like to try some sample sessions, click here.