The Horn Doesn’t Matter

I've been a musician since I was 5 years old. My parents afforded me the opportunity to play lots of different instruments and one of my favorites was the trumpet.

I spent hours listening to stacks of jazz and classical records from heroes like Miles Davis, Wynton Marsalis and Doc Severinsen, and dreamed of being able to play like them.

But there was a problem. I hated practicing. Practicing was hard. In reality, I was more obsessed with the *idea* of being a great trumpet player, than actually playing. But I wouldn’t figure that out for many years.

So I became obsessed with gear. Even as a kid, I was a gear whore (some things never change).

I thought if I used the same gear as my heroes, I would be a great trumpet player. I would save my allowance and use that money to buy mouthpieces, mutes, bags and other accessories.

One day I was telling my teacher how I planned to save up and buy a Bach Stradivarius (a horn that cost thousands of dollars and was similar to the models played by many of my favorite trumpet players).

He encouraged me to try one first, so I did. My mom drove me to a Ken Stanton music store in Marietta, Georiga (where I grew up) and I asked to play one of those amazing trumpets.

I sat there in a practice room staring at that horn for several minutes before working up the courage to play something. When I finally did, I was shocked that it sounded exactly the same as the beat up Yamaha I had been playing for years.

Needless to say, I was pretty disillusioned. I related the experience to my teacher and he said something to me that I still remember:

“The horn doesn’t matter. It’s how you play it.”

I continued to play trumpet throughout grade school and into college. I always enjoyed it and I was good at it, but I never put in the sweat and practice needed to be great.

I’m a web designer now and I often find myself doing the same thing, obsessing over designs or platforms or processes or mechanisms. It’s easy to get distracted with tools, because some part of me thinks that if I just had a killer design, my blog would take off. Or if I had a better process or writing environment, I would finally be able to be a great writer.

But deep down I know that’s not true. We get good at things by doing them every day. By practicing.

If there’s something you want to do, then just do it. It really is that simple. It’s not easy, but it is simple.

A famous writer has been quoted as saying, “I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at nine o’clock every morning.”

The few successes I’ve had in life can be directly attributed to that philosophy. The philosophy of doing.

My encouragement to you is to start that thing you’ve been putting off. Stop obsessing with the idea of doing something and just do it. I guarantee you’ll be happy with the results.

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