Trust the "Process"
I had a different newsletter planned for today. But, some things happened this week that made me change course.
You all know me as a musician, but there's another side of me that I keep very private.
I must admit, I'm also.....a raging sports fan. More specifically, a college football fan.
I came very close to attending the University of Alabama for organ performance. The opportunity to study with my composition teacher, Luigi Zaninelli, ultimately kept me from doing so.
But I made a few visits to "Bama" and started to pull for their football team. About a year later they hired a new coach named Nick Saban.
Over the next 17 years, Saban became the most successful coach in the history of college football. He won 6 titles in that span. He kept Alabama at the top of the sport right up until his retirement just 3 days ago.
But oddly enough, he never talked about success. He never talked about end goals. He never talked about winning a championship.
Instead, he only talked about "the process."
This is where I could really relate, not as a football player (I wasn't), but as a musician.
At the time, I applied this mindset to practicing my instrument.
In order to achieve the goals I had set for myself, I had to ignore them.
Instead, it was more productive for me to determine the daily actions I had to take to reach said goals. Then, put the goals out of sight and focus all my energy on those smaller, more attainable daily actions.
This would take discipline. At the time, I misunderstood this concept. But, Coach Saban was able to define it more accurately.
No one "has" discipline
People often tell me that I'm "a disciplined person." But I still have days in which I'm not disciplined at all - days when I don't do the little things that will ultimately get me to my goals.
So, I guess I don't have discipline.
"Discipline isn't something that you 'have,' it's a tool that you have to choose to use."
Every day I have the choice to use discipline, but it isn't an inherent quality that anyone possesses. That means that we all can do it. I found that encouraging.
"It takes no ability to give effort"
Today, many new artists focus on quickly increasing their numbers. As artists, this puts so much unnecessary pressure on us as we peak ahead to whatever end result we think we need to be considered "successful."
There's a funny thing about putting our heads down and focusing on each step it takes to reach a goal. We tend to actually get there. If we focus on that process, we're less likely to get discouraged by peaking up to see how far away that goal might be.
When I focus on where I feel I should be in relation to my end goals, that's when I stumble over the rocky terrain right in front of me every single time.
"It takes no ability to give effort," Coach Saban would tell young athletes at his summer football camp.
This was one of my favorite quotes and one that I've used with my piano students ever since. My most talented students, with more natural musical ability, were not always my best students. Some of my students with less natural ability worked very hard and made much more progress.
Guess which students were more enjoyable to teach and seemed to enjoy their experience the most?
As composers and artists, we all have different levels of talent, strengths, and weaknesses. But we can all improve if we put in the consistent work it takes to do so.
To summarize Nick Saban's philosophy, success requires:
1. A clear goal/vision that's important enough for to you act on
2. Identifying the smaller things you have to do to get there
3. Discipline to execute that process every day
The third is where most people fail. It tests the commitment you have to the first.
But to leave you with one more quote from Coach, "things worth doing are difficult to do. You get to choose your suffering. You'll either suffer because it's difficult. Or you'll suffer from regret, knowing that you could've done it better."
Thank you, Coach Saban, and ROLL TIDE.
If you'd like to learn about my own process when it comes to making music, I've built the resources below for you.
Whenever you're ready, here's how I can help you:
1. Composition Concepts for Artists - an in-depth look at the process of composition with step-by-step examples SHOWING how and WHY I make decisions. You'll learn to take an initial idea and DEVELOP it into a finished project.
2. Understanding Synthesis - learn to design your own sounds starting with the basics of subtractive synthesis and progressing to more advanced sound design with semi-modular and various forms of digital synthesis.
3. YouTube Membership - monthly livestreams featuring music making and sound design in real time. Q&As and exclusive videos only available to channel members.
4. One to One Coaching (coming soon) - work with me on YOUR own music. I'll help you take your track from idea to finished product, so you'll come out with a polished track or EP and any knowledge gained from walking through the process with me.