Mastering Each Step
In an ancient Eastern Country, a fearsome warrior was having a drink at a tavern with some fellow combatants. A peasant walked in and accidentally stepped on the warrior’s foot. This was considered a grave offense by the martial code so the great warrior got up and confronted the peasant, challenging him to a duel to the death the next morning.
The peasant was obviously distressed, for he had no knowledge of martial arts or use of weapons. He decided to look for the best martial artist in town to take a long lesson in order to be prepared for the upcoming fatal event.
“Great Master, please teach me everything you can, for tomorrow I must face a terrible fate and fight to the death with an undefeated and very strong warrior,” the peasant said to the great martial artist, explaining the tavern incident to him.
Moved by his condition, the great master looked at him with compassion and said, “The only thing I can teach you is the first position of defense. I cannot move from this first lesson until you have mastered it.”
“But tomorrow I face certain death if I don’t learn how to attack and all the movements you can teach me in the next eight hours,” exclaimed the nervous peasant.
“First, master the position of defense number one, then we move on,” replied the wise old man.
Without any other choice, the peasant decided to practice the first position of defense and worked on it incessantly for eight hours.
The following morning, at the time of the duel, both the peasant and the warrior faced each other and assumed their combat positions.
The peasant executed the first movement; his posture was so staggering that the invincible warrior thought to himself, ‘this must be an extraordinary adversary,’ so he decided to call off the duel, assuring the peasant that he realized the whole thing was nothing but an accident and there should be no conflict between them. The duel was called off and the peasant saved his life.
In a society where we constantly rely on technology and information at the reach of our fingertips, it has become customary to avoid putting in the effort to master a task. I tell my students the story above in order to motivate them and make them understand the importance of practicing each step to the best of their ability. It doesn’t matter if you only play five notes or a single drum beat. As long as you master every step of the method in the process of learning, you will become a proficient and consistent musician. This approach extends to other areas of life as well. Our obligation as teachers and parents is to help in the development of our student’s and children’s mindset by encouraging them to aim for perfection even in the smallest tasks. This is how we contribute to the evolution of society.
In addition to helping them become better with their instruments by building a sense of dedication, this approach instills confidence in themselves which may ultimately result in a positive step towards their happiness.