The Lazy Musician

        Contrary to what many folks think, the musicians I know are far from lazy.  Most spent  hours every day in a endless quest for mastery of their art.  (Hence a saying we have: “Study your instrument.”)  So, you might be surprised to find that Ben, one of my mandolin gurus, wants me to be a bit more lazy.  

         Huh?  Don’t see how I could be.  After all, I only put in fifteen minutes to a half hour of practice a day.  How could I get any more lazy than that?

        Of course, that is not what he meant.  He wants me to to explore the fingerboard and become more economical with my left hand movements.  The exercise he has me doing is to work on the high octave of Manzanita (a tough Tony Rice number) and do it with three different fingerings.  It makes the point. As you get up to speed, method number three begins to emerge as superior.

        All this reminds me of a saying I heard from a jazz pianist.  “The amateur practices a piece until he/she can play it right.  The professional practices the piece until they can’t do it wrong.”  I tell you folks, Ben, like my buddy Darrell, can’t do it wrong.  They are pros.

        I am an amateur, but who knows?  At least if ain’t worried too bad over my patients this month, I might surprise Professor Ben, and get Manzanita down where I can’t do it wrong.  And right at the moment, I have all my folks tucked in good and figured out to suit me, so maybe I can study my instrument even a full hour a day.  But, if the sick ones take a turn for the worse and I lose my mandolin focus, I’ve always got next month.  At the level I play, there is always room to improve, and it gives me something to look forward to.  Hey, if I don’t get the tune down cold, I’ll just tell Ben I got a bit too lazy, and he’ll forgive me. 

        I guess it is like being a Doc.  If you only took care of folks who were perfect, there wouldn’t be anybody to help.  (And Doc would also have to go home with his own case of perfection deficiency.)  And if Ben and Darrell only had students as good as them they wouldn’t have anyone to teach, ‘cept they might be able to help each other, I guess. 

        My computer is on the blink, and going on the shop for a day or two.  (Even my boy couldn’t fix it, a sure sign of the need for a specialist.)  If I’m a bit late to answer your comments, forgive me.  I’ll either catch ’em on someone’s computer, or in a day or two on mine.

        Will be back soon.

Dr. B

Explore posts in the same categories: Advice- Five Cents

6 Comments on “The Lazy Musician”

  1. pandemonic Says:

    As long as you’re a “professional” doctor, I wouldn’t worry too much about being amateur on the instrument. 🙂

    As for lazy musicians, I’m afraid my family is chock full of varying degrees of talent and no ambition. Ms. Mini is great on the flute and sings like an angel, but only practices if we yell. My husband is the same. My son has a new-found love, so he’s letting his instrument slide (and it’s not a trombone) which is a little troubling to his mother (ME). And me, I practice an hour or so a day, but according to some, it hasn’t helped.


  2. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Pande,

    You are absolutely right. I worry over being the best Doc I can, but little else. My standard as a Doc is to “play” a lifetime and never hit one out of bounds. Impossible, but gotta try.

    I was good with books, but after years of having a parade of folks lay their problems at my doorstep every day, I find the right temperament and stamina to be more important. I figure no matter how bad my day is, it is worse for my patient.

    All this has not made me very driven about music or golf, but I do the best I can. Wednesday I was the goat instead of the hero- hit one in the water on the last hole to shoot 80 and lose by a shot, but the pain lasted about three seconds. It is hard to get worked over a game up when you see folks over at Hospice or all the other things I see on a regular basis.

    If playing the violin helps one to make sense out of a crazy world, then it helps. That is what my mandolin does for me anyway.

    Dr. B

  3. rekx Says:

    Manzanita!?!…that’s a great tune. I am spending the month just practicing how to attack the string!

  4. drtombibey Says:


    The mandolin journey is a long and winding road, but much fun, huh? Sometimes I feel like the strings are attacking me, but I keep at it. We all gotta hold onto hope. Who knows, we might get there one day!

    Dr. B

  5. mrschili Says:

    “The amateur practices a piece until he/she can play it right. The professional practices the piece until they can’t do it wrong.”

    Along these lines, I’m fond of telling my students that there’s a difference between breaking the rules out of ignorance and breaking them out of artifice. One can’t break the rules on purpose if one doesn’t have mastery over those rules. We (writers, anyway) practice so that we know when it’s okay to go off the rule rails…

  6. drtombibey Says:


    It’s like me having a character say, “You done good.” I know better, but some of ’em can’t help it, ’cause they were raised that way.

    I am very lucky my mom was an English teacher, otherwise Bibey speak would be even worse!

    Dr. B

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