top of page

The Price of the Shortcut

Hasten slowly and ye shall soon arrive. - Jetsun Milarepa

Anyone who has ever taken a lesson with me knows that I love a good analogy as much as anybody. One that y I like to use with my students is the comparison of inefficient and impatient practice with rushing out the door. We know how things happen when we get ready in a rush! This is when we drop, spill, knock things down, and forget important steps in our morning routine. We might make it out of the house in time, but with crumpled clothes, disheveled hair, coffee stained pants, and our packed lunch sitting back home in the fridge.

This is sometimes how a performance coming from inefficient practice can feel to the performer and sound to the audience. Rushed, unpolished, uninspired, and unenjoyable.

In his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey wrote: “The price must be paid and the process followed. You always reap what you sow: there is no shortcut.” We can/should read that one again, as there are few truer statements. Make no mistake about it: the price must and will be paid. Sooner or later. Shortcuts are, in fact, expensive time-wasting dead ends.

What we do not practice well today, we have to practice again. And again. And again. Until we either master it through shear effort and a great deal of time, or realize that the so called shortcut leads nowhere and that we must go back to the drawing board and implement patient and intelligent practice methods. We can either make the effort to improve our work ethic and reap greater success, or pursue in our old ineffective methods and learn to accept our usual results. Don’t get me wrong: I realize that life is a series of deadlines and that we have to meet them.

It is possible, however, to find a balance in reaching short and long term goals, and to adopt practicing habits that serve both purposes. First, one must plan well and, second, one must work methodically and patiently. By learning well in the first place, we learn forever. We minimize the time spent working on mistakes and poor technique, we maximize our sweat equity, and save a great deal of time.

As I said in the previous entry, first, there is art. The artistic message is our end goal. Without a solid foundation, a thorough knowledge of the works performed, and the mental and physical freedom resulting from proper training, there can be no artistry, because before art can happen, the basic principles of violin playing must be conquered.

To bring an idea to fruition, we need to have the skills to make the vision come alive, and that happens by going through the process: being mindful and meticulous in our work. By hastening slowly and methodically, we can reach our goals faster.


bottom of page