Organizing Your Time __ Mark Stefani

Organizing Your Time

 Mark Stefani   Vision Music

People often comment to me about just "how wonderful" it must have been to come from a musical family, and what an "influence" my late father must have had on my musical career.

Well, in the sense that my parents loudly applauded any creative artistic pursuits by their children, it was indeed a wonderful experience. But what I'd like to share with you in this edition of "Coach's Corner" is the nature of Pop's influence on me, and the trait I inherited from him that I treasure most.

My father was organized almost to a fault. I used to kid him about it all of the time. He was forever creating charts and planners for just about anything that you could ever imagine. I used to tell him "Pop, you'd design a form just to take a walk around the block." But you know what's really funny? He'd do just that!

When my colleagues and students imagine life with a musical father, I'm sure that the first thing that springs to mind are specifics, like this tune or that riff or this artist, etc. Yes, we had that aspect to our relationship, but Pop's penchant for organization, and my witnessing what it did for him as a "goal­oriented" individual, is the single most significant gift that he left me with. It's positively affected my entire life, and certainly my career as a player and teacher. Achieving a sense of organization is an extremely important quality to possess as an instructor in any field, not just music. Students are generally looking for a logical way to move from one level of knowledge to another, and depend strongly on their teacher to provide the path. I find this to be a challenge, because it's also easy to rely on a method that may be organized, but tends to constrict an individual's artistic needs. This is one of the potential negatives of being too organized, and not spending enough time contemplating the "substance" of how you spend your time and energy. Just as I used to joke with Pop about the subject, at times I've seen myself fall into patterns where I become overly obsessive with "form" itself, only to conclude later that the substance didn't really warrant it.

Despite the danger of stressing organization at the expense of achieving your goals in the most efficient manner, I still believe that you'll come out much further ahead in the long run by attempting to coordinate your goals with an organized game plan. When you think about it (and the key word is "think"), you can accomplish just about anything that you can imagine, musically or otherwise, with a systematic understanding of what it's going to take to get you there.

In another article edition, I wrote about the idea of maintaining a "journal" to elevate your musical activity. That's just one example of something positive that you can do through the process of organization. Almost every goal that you can dream up has many, many smaller tasks associated with the "big picture", and each one of these tasks can be divided into organized "to­do" lists to help you monitor your efforts.

There are many traits to strive for as an artist, as a businessman, or as a human being in general. Organizing your time will only serve to make each waking moment of every day as fruitful as possible. But don't just take it from me. Take it from Pop! Ciao for now...

"Coach's Corner" is an ongoing addition to Vision Music. The purpose of these brief articles is to share philosophy, offer practical insights, and to enhance your musical studies.
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