• “Dear Musician, Beyond Competence You Also Need Character” — Dr. Pokey

    in Motivational Minutes,Personal Blog,Piano

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    Character? Yes! This lesson is dedicated to all musicians and our focus is on character.

    I never knew that there will be a need for me to go beyond music theory, history, analysis, composition, arrangement, performance, etc., and focus on character; which is not a common topic people will love to read on.

    Although you’ll hardly find pages on music learning websites talking about character, that doesn’t make it less important and this is because the subject of character and its impact in the lives of musicians (and non-musicians alike) cannot be denied.

    I had an experience on the 23rd of February 2019 (which I prefer not to share with you all at this time) and this post is inspired by that experience and my goal is to help musicians (like me) to see the importance and implication of character.

    But before I go into the few things I’d love to share with you on this post, permit me to start out by saying this:

    Competence is NOT everything

    …and I’ll tell you why.

    “Competence Is NOT Everything! Character  Counts Too”

    While a vast majority of those reading this post may agree that competence is not everything, there are still those whose views may disagree to that.

    Submission: The goal of this post is to showcase the importance of character. Hence, you’ll see the emphasis on character. I don’t intend to offend the sensibility of anyone, neither am I implying that it’s not good to be competent. I am not also saying that character is more important than competence.

    “Competence Is Good…”

    It’s good to be a competent, cutting-edge, and sophisticated musician who is impressively up to date and revered. There’s need for every musician to master his or her instrument and be able to play skillfully with excellent delivery.

    For musicians involved with other aspects of music like education, therapy, promotion, technology, etc., once you are able to distinguish yourself as an top-notch educator, competent therapist, you rise to enviable heights, be on spotlight, and become a role-model to a lot of people.

    “…But Character Counts Too”

    What so many of us fail to realize is that beyond our skill, there are other things people look out for and they count.

    Beyond your musically ability and virtuosity (even as a “highly sought after” musician) people weigh your words, your integrity, how responsible you are, your actions and reactions to situations and it either adds up to or takes away from your personality.

    When people say stuff like “Oh, he’s an amazing player but he’s unreliable and irresponsible” you can clearly see competence and character encapsulated in one sentence.

    Although the “amazing player” makes the musician valuable in terms of competence, the “unreliable and irresponsible” is a character flaw that takes away from his value.

    Yes, people want to hire an amazing player whose musicianship is top-notch, delivery of performance is excellent, etc., but the character flaws of the amazing player takes away from his overall value and people don’t mind hiring someone who is less skillful, reliable, and responsible.

    Five Character Evaluation Questions

    The following questions will help you identify (to a large extent) the strength and weakness of your character:

    1. How truthful are you to yourself and others?
    2. How well do you keep to time during appointments, gigs, or meet deadlines?
    3. Is your honesty absolute or conditional? Does your honesty bow to pressure?
    4. Are you consistently reliable or are you a “band wagon” musician type who goes with the tide?
    5. Do you stand for what is right at all times (without fear or favor), even under stress or pressure?

    …so you can improve on your strength and work on your areas of weakness.

    Try your best to answer the questions above and also ask musicians in your circle of influence to tell you what they think about you as well.

    Although, what others will tell you may not be absolutely correct, it will give you insights on your reputation and how you’re perceived by others.

    Five Things I Want You To Keep In Mind About Character

    There are five nuggets that I’ll love you to keep in mind as we approach the end of this blog.

    1. While You’re Becoming Increasingly Competent, Don’t Leave Character Behind

    2. Competence Takes You There, Character Keeps You There

    3. You know Your Character When You’re Alone, Under Pressure, Or Both

    4. Character Can Be Trained

    5. If You Don’t Deal With That Character Flaw, It Will Deal With You

    Final Words

    I wrote this blog post from my heart. All what you’ve read were inspired by my recent experience with a character flaw that dealt my music career a big blow.

    At the moment, I’m still recuperating from the effect and aftermath of my experience, hence, my inability to share what I’ve been through.

    Thank you for reading and feel free to post your comment, questions, suggestions, and more in the comment section.

    All the best!

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    Onyemachi "Onye" Chuku (aka - "Dr. Pokey") is a Nigerian musicologist, pianist, and author. Inspired by his role model (Jermaine Griggs) who has become his mentor, what he started off as teaching musicians in his Aba-Nigeria neighborhood in April 2005 eventually morphed into an international career that has helped hundreds of thousands of musicians all around the world. Onye lives in Dubai and is currently the Head of Education at HearandPlay Music Group and the music consultant of the Gospel Music Training Center, all in California, USA.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.


    1 Carolyn

    Thanks for sharing this. Yes, this is a topic I would love to share with YouTube. Thanks used to wonder how can a person be in a position and care nothing about their character outside of their music ministry. It should be taken so seriously. Thanks for the post. Very much needed.

    2 bubble shooter

    The information is good, i need more, i’m still learning about it.

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