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Posted by wbloomfield on Monday, April 16, 2007

Discipline is one of the keys to developing any talent.  I am convinced that there is much talent in the world, but that there is somewhat less discipline, and that it is this lack of discpline which often masquerades itself for a lack of talent.

Now, it is true that some rare individuals do seem to develop their talents effortlessly.  In my opinion, what is usually occurring is that these people naturally find themselves engaged by a certain subject, be it music or otherwise, and therefore quickly advance through the early and most frustrating stage of developing a talent.  Even these quicklearners, however, eventually reach a point where their passion for their chosen subject wanes.  It is at this point, that discipline is essential.  The path of least resistance is to give up and content oneself with one's achievements.  The disciplined player, however, struggles through this difficult time in his learning and continues practicing until his passion for the subject returns.

Self-critically applying this to my own study of the banjo, I would say that I have gone through many of the above stages.  My passion for the instrument has not always remained constant, and at times I felt that I was not making sufficient improvement.  Fortunately, I exercised discipline through my first four years playing the banjo and basically never missed a day of practice, and this usually meant at least an hour a day.  I look back now and am grateful for the progress I have made as a musician, but I realize now that the temptation to slack off will always be present (as it is currently for me) and that if I wish to continue to improve as a banjo player and musician I must remain disciplined in my practice.

To all those new banjo players out there who may be struggling or feeling frustrated, my advice is to keep at it and exercise discpline.  Practice regularly and practice using good technique.  Also, do whatever it takes to keep your passion for bluegrass and the banjo.  If you remain passionate about learning, it will be much easier to remain disciplined in your banjo studies.

1 comment on “Discipline”

Unplugged Says:
Monday, April 16, 2007 @6:35:17 PM

To my mind, William, you got the priorities correct. One has to have the passion to get it all underway. That, of course, needs to be supported by the discipline and hard work, which is where and when so many new to banjo tend to drop away - not a strong enough passion. The passion then needs to be stoked by moving onto new levels of skill. Cyclical, but still hard. And rewarding. Thanks for the insights.

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