What Does Basketball Have To Do With Practicing Piano and Life Itself?

My daughter Maria and I

A few weeks ago my youngest daughter Maria played the National Anthem on her violin for the Phoenix Suns Basketball game, which was televised nationwide….I am soooo proud of her  🙂

I started thinking about the all time champion and basketball-hero Michael Jordan, and what he said about his success and winning: “I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I have been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is what I succeed.” Wow! What a powerful, honest and encouraging statement from someone as famous and heroic as Michael Jordan!
How many times have you tried something and failed? How many times has a recital, a concert, a game, a career, a conversation, you name it, gone wrong and not the way we had planned and expected it to go? How many times have we failed our loved-ones or come short of someone else’s expectation of us? How many times have we not met our own expectations?
Relax, it’s all good. I will give you 7 steps that will help you navigate the ups and downs, and meet life’s adversities head on. Those 7 steps will also help you become a better pianist:
1) Be Fit Both Physically and Mentally.
Every athlete knows that in order to function at their best and to win, you have to be in top shape both physically and mentally. You must be in great physical shape to be able to endure long and demanding hours of practicing piano, preparing for a professional basketball game, launching a business, or for just facing life itself.
Equally essential is mental fitness, which can be achieved through prayer, meditation, getting enough rest and sleep, reading good books and working with a mentor/coach if possible. You must maintain a winning attitude.
2) Master The Basics First
Have you heard the quote by Pablo Picasso “Learn the Rules like a Pro, so you can break them like an Artist.” Or Albert Einstein said: “You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” Nadia Boulanger said: “To study music, we must learn the rules. To create music, we must break them.”
Before you play a game of basketball, you have to learn the basics first: how to pass, to dribble, run the court and shoot the ball.
Before you can play a nice piece on the piano, you have to learn your keyboard-geography, your finger-numbers, some basic theory and definitions, some fundamentals and some basic technique.
If you want to start a new business, you have to learn about marketing, communication, ideal customer avatar, the right product for the ideal client.
You must establish what  life means to you and what you want from it. Then you must develop the skills and strategies for attaining it.
3) Be a Team Player and Don’t Be Selfish
Personal glory does not get the job done. For example in one of Michael Jordan’s highest scoring games of his career, where he scored 63 points and set a playoff game record, his team lost to the Boston Celtics.
Basketball is a team sport and requires contribution and co-operation from every member in order to play well and win. Everyone must focus, work together and fulfill their individual roles for the common good of the team.
So it is with music. You must learn to trust the teacher, the conductor, the other players.
So it is with life. Contribute, co-operate and share.
4) Don’t Give Up On Your Vision
The greatest players in basketball have all been credited for having extraordinary court vision and awareness.
Michael Jordan always knew exactly where everyone was on the court. His ability to anticipate and to be aware of other players’ tendencies, made him active rather than reactive.
The greatest orchestras and musicians in the world never stop learning. They have passion and a great attitude. A great musician never stops growing as a person. To me, truly great musicians are often truly great people. They have learned how to accept constructive criticism and use it to improve and grow. They have learned how to treat others. They have never given up on their vision and desire to be a musician.
5) Be Flexible
Every great basketball player knows that when your plays aren’t working you have to adjust.
Every great musician knows that they will always have to improve and be willing to adjust.
6) Win or Lose, Be Garcious
No matter what you do in life, you cannot always win.
If you give it everything you’ve got, no matter what the outcome, you can walk away with your head held high. Learn what it takes to win and come back and try again.
If you give everything your best shot and learn the lessons along the way, you will come out a winner.
7) Persevere and Never Ever Give Up
Another characteristic common to the brilliance of Michael Jordan was that he never gave up on a play. He made every second count.
So whatever challenge life gives you, don’t give up. Don’t give up on your music. Don’t give up on your business. Don’t give up on your game. Don’t give up on your Life.
Persevere. Never, Ever, Ever Give Up!!!

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