By Mike Vaccaro
(from Mike's Musings #2, our newsletter)

Well now, if you are only going to read one of my articles, this is definitely the one for you.

Here are some of  the big “secrets”, why wait?

These ideas, I am sure, will be proffered and enhanced in the forthcoming articles, however they deserve their own consideration.

The first and foremost rule for me for the past 20 (wish it was 50) years has been:

Be happy with where you are at while you are trying to get to where you want to be.

It is easy to be impatient. One must remember that music, art, and in fact, life itself, are growth experiencies.

Someone said to me that “type A personalities are the only people who get anything done.” I don’t want to debate the truth of that statement here. I do know that it takes an incredible amount of time, dedication and energy to do anything (especially in the discipline of music) at a proficient level, or to take that proficiency to the level of “art”.

Let’s remember too, that art is a spirit and can exist whether one is a musician, painter, gardener, auto mechanic, or student of life. In short, “art” is available to everyone based on attitude. Art is thus available to all of us in spite of our level of proficiency, however “high art” requires the art spirit and proficiency.

One of the greatest artists I ever encountered was a gardener at a hotel I was staying at in Phoenix, AZ in the mid-1970’s. He tended the courtyard daily to create one of the most beautiful environments I have ever seen. I think he knew every blade of grass, every leaf, and every living thing in the courtyard intimately and with love. He owned the “art spirit.”

Some people “get it” sooner than others but no one is exempt from the journey or the growth that music, art, and life provide.

So, if we are patient, if we can plan a focused and consistent method of practice and/or training, we can then can settle into a pace of improvement and growth that is most beneficial to our own mental health.

This is not to say that intense and long hours of practice are not necessary or are harmful. Most musicians who I know in addition to their long-term habit of regular methodic practice, have known periods of intense practice with long hours in the practice room.

The trick then, is to work (or play) in a manner that is not obsessive, or compulsive, or injurious to ourselves. That is, to have a goal and to be happy with our consistent journey to that goal.

Since goals change in midstream and are replaced with new goals once we achieve the old goals, it makes sense to alter the course, “in the moment” This “in the moment” idea is easier on our self-esteem. It is a consious decision to start moving in a new direction. It helps to keep us from beating ourselves up for our imperfections.

If we were destined to be a genius, a Mozart, or a Bach we would be there already and would not have to worry about praciticing For most of us mortals the steady path is best.


Success is getting what you want and happiness is wanting what you get.
……Dale Carnegie

Another favorite axiom of mine is:

We become what we practice on a daily basis.

If you practice music on a daily basis you are a musician
If you paint on a daily basis you are a painter
If you drink on a daily basis you are an alcoholic
If you train physically on a daily basis you are an athlete
If you overeat on a daily basis you are fat
You get the idea! Make your choices!

To attain success in either the business of music or in the art of music, it is very helpful if you actually enjoy practicing.. Again, as always, the same is true in life. Enjoy your life, don’t fight it.


Practice does not make perfect.
Perfect practicing makes perfect
  p.s. nothing is perfect! Live with it!

Yet another secret:


Unless you are born into money, it drops from the sky, or you live in a monastery, money, how to use money, and how to keep money are crucial skills to develop.




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