#tbt: on getting to carnegie hall (or berklee college of music)

Alex and Leland, February 2014.

Alex and Leland, February 2014.

Alex began taking guitar lessons August of 2013 (the photograph above was taken about 6 months into her lessons).  She picked up playing her instrument really quickly -- I might even say she's a natural.  And she loves it.  She loves her teacher, Mr. Leland, she loves her guitars, and she loves trying new music out.  She's already said that her goal is to go to the Berklee College of Music after she graduates high school.  And this past Thanksgiving, when we went to Boston to spend the holiday with my friend Mark and his family, he arranged for us to witness the senior recital of a young guitarist.  

Alex, needless to say, was mesmerized.  And so was I.  Because I went in thinking that the experience might be intimidating for Alex, since Berkelee is one of the top music schools for contemporary music in the country.  But as I watched this talented young man play, I thought to myself ...

... Alex could totally make it into Berklee.

It's not that the guitarist wasn't wonderful -- of course he was.  But he was also ten years older than Alex, and given how Alex plays now, at 13, it suddenly became entirely possible that Alex could go there.  

I mentioned this to Leland when we returned.  He looked at me, and then he looked at Alex.

"Well, of course she can get into Berklee."

Alex grinned.

"The question," he continued, "is whether you're willing to work hard to get there."

He went on to explain that many talented musicians apply to Berklee, but the difference between those who apply and those who get in are the ones who put in the hours.  The ones who practice scales and drills over and over ad nauseum.  "You've got natural talent," he said to Alex, "but natural talent will only get you so far.  You have to work."

Leland and Alex, April 26, 2017.

Leland and Alex, April 26, 2017.

Luckily, Alex is happy to put in the work, so getting to Berklee (or any music school of her choice, for that matter), is still a realistic goal (and one she continues to want to achieve).  And Leland's words, reminded me of the words of Malcolm Gladwell, who posits that any person can achieve mastery of anything by putting in 10,000 hours worth of practice

It's a relief, really.  We can all achieve greatness if we put in the work.  

It's just a matter of commitment.



Soundtrack:  Space Oddity by David Bowie, featuring Kristen Wiig.  (This is the latest song Alex has taught herself on her guitar.)