Policing Your Progress: How To Monitor Your Progress And Ensure Success
Have you ever heard of a little band called The Police? Gordon Sumner (Sting), Andy Summers, and Stewart Copeland forever changed the landscaped of rock-and-roll music by blending Reggae with Punk and writing superbly crafted pop masterpieces. I discovered them as a teenager, as subsequent generations will continue to do. The music instantly grabbed me, but the name was never my favorite. It did not seem very rock-and-roll. Then I asked the question: "What are police? What does the word really mean in our culture?"
“Successful people are not those who make all of the right decisions, but those who make their decisions right.”
The Police were a band of three individuals holding each other to the highest standards of songwriting, musicianship, and performance. Each member had to be responsible for policing himself to ensure his equal contribution to the greater whole. This is how any great band becomes successful, and no one would ever question the “success” of The Police. We could look at every successful band from The Beatles to Coldplay, and this would certainly be the case. Interestingly, this is also how an individual becomes successful.
Before we go any further, let’s define “success.” The best definition I have come across reads as follows: “Progressively working toward a worthy ideal.” With this as our definition, policing yourself on your journey—course correcting on the path towards each goal—is the only way forward. As students of music, we have many “successes”, and they are much like a series of checkpoints in a marathon on the way to mastery. We also encounter many setbacks. If we do not police ourselves, then we are limiting our potential. For example, when we practice a song or technique when no one else is around, who ensures that the correct fingerings are being used? Who checks to be sure the parts line up with the music? Who experiments with the material? Who is turning that metronome on and checking the BPM? Well, that would be you…the student…policing yourself.
“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Sir Isaac Newton
The great men and women of the world surround themselves with greatness. They purposely keep police everywhere around them. This kind of policing comes from those who hold each of us to the highest standard. These people can be parents, friends, family, colleagues, teachers, mentors, celebrities, or artists. They are the ones inspiring, encouraging, disciplining, and molding our minds day in and day out. These police make up the foundation on which we stand. The foundation of any great structure needs to be sound, and in terms of life and music, a strong foundation is built with good character, creativity, expertise, and ambition. We are each the sum of the thoughts in our mind, so it is imperative that we choose our influencers, our police, wisely.
The most rock-and-roll thing a person can do is police himself or herself daily and accept criticism and instruction with humility: growing, progressing, and strengthening their skills. Music can be an excellent vehicle to teach and monitor this process for those willing to go the extra mile. We don’t just learn the scale; we also learn the correct fingering and placement. We don’t just play the scale; we play it with a metronome. We don’t just keep the information isolated; we put it into the context of a song. We don’t just learn the song for ourselves; we share it with the world.
-Chris Vazquez, Director - SoundLife Music Academy
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