• The Four Levels Of Determination And How They Determine Musician Improvement

    in Beginners,Experienced players,Goal Setting,Motivational Minutes,Piano,Self-Improvement

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    There are four levels of determination for musician improvement and we’re focusing on them in this lesson.

    So many people start out every new year with a new year resolution to go beyond their current Plateau and take their playing to the next level.

    Way into the year, they discover that there’s little or no difference between their current level and where they used to be in previous years — sometimes even up to the previous five to ten years.

    “But The Story Is Going To Be Different This Year…”

    If you are interested in taking your musicianship to the next level this year, then there is need for you to know the four levels of determination.

    More importantly, you’ll also have to figure out the level of determination you’re currently in and if it isn’t the right level of determination, you’ll then have to adjust to the right level of determination that will give you the desired improvement.

    “Do You Really Want To Improve This Year?”

    To a lot of people (if not everybody), the answer to the question “Do you really want to improve this year?” includes any of the following:

    • “Yes”
    • “Sure! Why not?”
    • “Of course, Yes!”
    • “Hey! I really, really, really want to”

    But beyond giving a positive response, lies the decision to improve and the determination to stick to that decision no matter what.

    Nobody has ever improved because they said they want to. People actually begin to experience improvement when they are determined to improve and there are four levels to this determination.

    Your level of determination will reflect on your firmness of purpose, sense of duty, dedication to “sit down and practice”, and more.

    Let’s explore these levels of determination.

    The Four Levels Of Determination: May, Can, Will, And Must

    The four levels of determination can also be called “the may, can, will, and must of improvement.”

    Every musician is on one of these levels and as you read through, you’ll not only discover your current level of determination, but the appropriate level of determination that will give you your desired improvement this year.

    1st Level — “I May Improve This Year”

    At the first level of improvement is where you have those who are uncertain if they will improve or not.

    The likelihood is there because they know that it would take several days to the end of the year and chances are there that they “may” bump into something (a book or DVD) or somebody (an instructor) and their playing will improve overnight.

    At this level of determination, the musician is not really obligated to practice, and even when he/she does, it’s at usually when it is convenient or when he/she is inspired by a video on the internet or someone who plays better than they do.

    2nd Level — “I Can Improve This Year”

    “He can who says he can; she can who says she can.”

    On this second level of determination are those who are interested in improving and know that it’s possible to do so this year.

    Musicians with this level of determination know that improvement is not a probability, but a possibility. So, they invest hours on the internet; searching for relevant information, watching YouTube videos, and doing diligent study using e-book, charts, etc.

    But one of the things about this second level is that busy schedules or tight finances can slow down the improvement process, and this is because there’s no stubborn willingness to go against all odds.

    With prolonged effort at this determination level, though it may take time, but improvement is a possibility.

    3rd Level — “I Will Improve This Year”

    The willingness to improve is what differentiates the third level of determination from the first and second levels.

    In addition to the willingness to improve, musicians at this level have it all figured out with well-structured goals: short-term and long-term goals.

    If you are the kind of musician who wakes up with a strong drive to improve, and already are conversant with theĀ  aspects of your musicianship that needs improvement, then you’re on this third level.

    At this level of determination, scheduling out time, investing money, meeting other musicians who are ahead of you and are willing to share ideas, etc., won’t be a problem.

    4th Level — “I Must Improve This Year”

    It all starts with a decision to improve. But musicians at this level of determination add a sense of duty, devotion, dedication, and direction to their decision to make improvement more predictable.

    The chances of improving if you have this level of determination is 100% because if you’re practicing in the right direction, and you’re dedicated to practice (doing it out of duty and with a sense of devotion), improvement becomes visible in days and weeks; not months and years.

    Charlie Parker was on this level of dedication when we worked as a dishwasher in Massachusetts, while practicing 12 hours daily over a 3-4 year period. Did he get there? Oh yes! He became the saxophone virtuoso of all times.

    At this level of determination, you practice all the time:

    • When you feel like practicing, you practice.
    • When you don’t feel like practicing, you still practice.
    • When you just finished practicing, you practice.
    • When you’re eating, walking, driving, you still do some serious mental practice that can be brain-draining.

    …and after a few weeks or months, not only can you tell the difference; others too will.

    Final Words

    Lastly, I want you to keep this in mind:

    “Under the same level of training and exposure to the right resources, musician improvement is directly proportional to the musician’s level of determination”

    So, you may not improve faster than your current level of determination. So, if you want to improve faster, you may need to adjust from the first level to the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th level.

    Every year affords us 365 opportunities to improve and I hope that these secrets will help you maximize the opportunities to improve this year. Don’t say “Next year I will” when you can change your level of determination and wire yourself up for your next level.

    See you in the next lesson.

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    Onyemachi "Onye" Chuku 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.

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