Practice...Mar 12, 2014
(And Why Education Without Application is Worse Than Worthless) By Master Trainer and Speaker Mike Pallin
I grew up in a home filled with music. My mother had a wonderful, trained voice and was always singing as she worked in the kitchen. My father was an avid record collector with eclectic taste ranging from classical to big band to Broadway. One of my earliest memories is of listening to the original cast recording of 'Oklahoma!' on 78 RPM records.
Even though I began music lessons at age ten, and learned to sight-read music pretty well, I never learned to play keyboards. It is the #1 musical regret of my life.
Thirteen years later, I did, however, take two piano lessons, from a friend and one-time band-mate, Joe Azarello. The first lesson was an introduction to navigating my way up and down the keyboard, and Joe gave me a book with practice exercises, and a week to practice them. I believe he was only charging me $5 a lesson.
When I went back to Joe's house for the second lesson, without having practiced at all, I learned some of the most valuable lessons in my life. Not about becoming a piano player, but about being a good teacher and coach and friend. As Joe observed me fumbling my way through the exercises he had given me, knowing I was sight-reading them, he stopped me and said, "You don't pay me to watch you practice. You pay me to watch the results of your practice." I was faking it. He knew it. Busted. But he wasn't upset or judgmental or even disappointed. He was simply matter-of-fact, here's how this thing called being my student works. If you want to learn to play piano, you have to do your part first for me to do mine.
We mutually agreed that we would rather stay friends and colleagues and leave the piano playing to him, than compromise his method and standards of teaching for someone who wasn't willing to apply what he taught. Of course I wish I had stuck with it and learned piano, but I am eternally grateful to Joe for being such a gentleman about it.
"You don't pay me to watch you practice. You pay me to watch the results of your practice." A coach can still coach if the athlete isn't practicing, but how much real progress will be made? A teacher can still teach if the student isn't applying what is being taught, but how much real learning will take place?
Floyd has said it a million times. Education without application is worse than worthless.
Sitting in a classroom can make a student aware of ideas, techniques and principles. But putting them into practice by applying them is the only way to get measurable results. If you want to develop skill, and you are fortunate enough to find someone who is willing to train you, or willing to mentor you, or willing to coach you, honor their willingness by doing your part.
Take their advice. Put it into practice. Apply what they teach. Incorporate their direction, guidance and feedback into your actions and then show them the results.
It is the sweetest note a teacher can ever hear.
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