Don’t Settle for “Good Enough”, Strive for EXCELLENCE

12 Dec

This has been the motto for the Eden Prairie String Academy this year and is something I think many of us need to ponder.

In today’s world, it seems like there is way too much mediocrity.  Too many students I work with seem to think a B or C is OK.  Yes, it’s OK, but could you get an A?  Could you do the extra work to push yourself a little further?  The  answer the majority of the time is YES, but the energy it takes to accomplish it says NO.

I sat back last night after an orchestra rehearsal where I had to do a little bit of chewing out to my older kids and reflected.    In October, I passed out some music for the holiday concert at Mall of America and said…make sure this is learned by December 4th.  Nothing is extremely hard, but if your new to the group or playing a different part…it till take a little bit of effort to get it learned.  At several rehearsals between October and December I would say – “Don’t forget about the holiday music!”

Well December rolls around and on Dec 4, it wasn’t good.  I told them specifically to learn a couple of the hard pieces and what did I get at rehearsal?  A few kids that were spot on and had it learned!!!  A few kids that had put in some effort, but settled for good enough.  And a couple that flat out were fumbling and couldn’t play it if their life depended on it.  In an orchestra, just one person not playing dead on with the rest of the group can make the whole group sound hideous.

Guess what happened….Lecture 101!   It went something like this…I know you’re all here because you want to be here.  I know you all can play this music brilliantly.  I know you all have busy lives and could easily find something to do instead of practicing. But you committed to playing in this group and you need to try to do your best ALL THE TIME!  This good enough attitude that some of you have just needs to go, YOU can do better and I EXPECT you to.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, because none of us are.  But you do need to play like you mean it and look like your trying.  Play with your heart…I want to hear the emotion, make every note important and enjoy what you are doing.    I’m tired too, but work through it!  Always do the best you can all the time!  You wouldn’t put 2+2=3.8 on a math test would you?  It’s close to the right answer, you could try and argue that if you round up you’d have the right answer.  NO WAY – you just wouldn’t do it!  So get rid of the “good enough” attitude and STRIVE for EXCELLENCE all the time!  Now go home and practice!

By the time I was done, you could hear a pin drop.  Excellent – I knew they heard me!

So as you go into this busy holiday season…Don’t settle for good enough…STRIVE for EXCELLENCE in whatever you do!

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