On Mastery

A small reflection on mastery. I think it is, in part, an obsession.

A while back, last year, I became damn near obsessed with learning how to play Mad World on the piano:

For a while I used something similar to this tutorial to learn how to play. I learn how to do the first verse. It turned out to be simplified and inaccurate. I also did not have enough patience to sit down and play the song over and over. I was distracted by girls too.

Now that I’ve been in Germany for a while, this song has been stuck in my head. Two weeks ago I sat down to practice it for a hour or two hours straight. I learned how to do each part and eventually put it together. At first, it was tough, but I stuck with it because I could not get the song out of my head. I used the video below to learn, and I learned the song within a week, when it took me up to three months to learn a song before.

I would practice each part until I got it down pat and then would learn the next part. Then I would play the song over and over and over, alternating between really fast, really slow, and somewhere in between. At this point, I can play the song almost completely with my eyes closed. If it weren’t for the second verse changing up on me, I could play it blind.

I can’t get the song out of my head. I just have to play it. Every day I play this song. Even old songs I learned, I can remember them in a few play throughs, with muscle memory and sound memory.


3 thoughts on “On Mastery

  1. I am REALLY sad that I let my old roommate (who owed me money) move his piano out of my place. It was such a nice addition, classed up the living room, and I really enjoyed messing around on it. I wanted to learn some significant stuff on it, but now I’ve got to apply that to the guitar. Two instruments I would love to be adept at playing.

  2. There is a video game called Gears of War. Here is a trailer using the same song: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ccWrbGEFgI8

    The game is very simplistic. A crude brutal shooter on a demolished world. I wanted to kick it into the dustbin, but this experience of repetitive simple violence got a grip on me. The hopelessness and despair of a world overrun by endless hordes of monsters. No civilization. No comfort. No peace. Only repetitive shot after shot in a brute like manner. Without escape. In a weird way, this game touched me deeper than most have.

    The thing that made the game bad was actually what made it good.

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