I’ve been working on learning to play the electric bass part of the song Far Cry from the band Rush recently. It’s a quick tempo song with some cool rhythmic elements that I think sound really cool. One thing that became painfully obvious when I started learning to play the song was that I would have to slow the tempo way down, if I have any hopes of mastering it.
When I stop and think about it, it makes perfect sense. I can’t look at a challenging song and play it perfectly at the same tempo on my first attempt. There are note progressions, fingering, and rhythms that all need to be discerned and practiced at a slower pace in order to gain an understanding of how they all fit together within the song. Once those elements are understood individually, I can then integrate them together as I begin to play parts of the song. Albeit still at a slower tempo.
This slowness feels clunky and awkward. What I really want to do is pick up the bass and play the tune like a pro on the first or second attempt. However, that’s not the way mastery of a topic works. Mastery requires that we start out slow as we begin the work of obtaining knowledge and understanding. From there we can begin to apply this knowledge and steadily increase our pace.
Here is where I think most people give up pursing a goal. They see the talent in a musician, athlete, or some other person that has slowed down and put in the time to achieve mastery and think that this person must have been “born with it” or is “gifted”. In fact, what they are seeing is this person’s reward for having slowed down and spent the time in that slow and clunky stage.
What’s lost on many of us is that we too can be considered “talented” or “gifted” if we’re willing to put in the required time in the slow and clunky stage.