the wall (and why practicing matters)

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Ok.

 

 

This is a Contemporary Security job (that security job I had in college) story and Life & business lesson.

 

 

 

To tell you the conclusion the lesson is practice makes perfect <and try that lesson out on a short attention span 19 year old college boy>.

 

 

Yeah.

This is actually a lesson from when I was a kid in bright yellow shirt with unfathomable power in a clipboard with names on it and the ability to beat the crap out of someone if I really felt like they deserved it.

 

Oh.

And I got to hear a lot of great music and see some great bands at the same time.

 

 

So.

 

While you have probably heard the practice makes perfect thought a zillion times before … try out this story as maybe a different way of learning it.

 

 

In my professional life I have always been a rehearse type of guy in business.

 

 

I cannot remember the last meeting/presentation I hadn’t written down what I wanted to say or plan out some things to say.

 

Uhm.

 

And said those thoughts out loud rehearsing portions and how things sound.

 

I have probably worn out paths in my carpets walking around talking out loud practicing.

 

 

I think a lot of people believe … after seeing me in meetings & presentations … I think fairly well on my feet.

 

Nope. They are wrong.

 

 

The reality is I have thought and thought and  … well  … thought and rehearsed things in my head a variety of ways and times prior.

 

 

So.

 

Me being me … i think about ‘where did this get instilled in me?’ <because I haven’t found one person who actually likes it>.

 

 

Here is a crazy thought.

 

I give credit to The Wall.

That would be Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

 

 

Here you go.

 

In my college security job there were just some things you sucked up and did.

I was backstage supervisor <I got to supervise the gate for everyone to get in and out of backstage standing with a clipboard with the power to say “you cannot enter” …. heady stuff for a kid>.

 

 

But.

 

To do that job meant I had to attend rehearsals for shows, in this case, all three rehearsals for The Wall show <which proceeded the 7 straight nights of shows at the LA Sports Arena>.

 

Okay.

 

Let me be clear.

 

That means I saw and heard The Wall show 10 times < please note … I still see inflatable pigs in nightmares sometimes>.

 

 

But here is the deal.

 

 

While the band practiced parts of songs on occasion there were full rehearsals.

 

From the first note to the last.

Screw ups and all.

 

And this was the trickiest choreography of all.

 

That stupid wall and the movies were set to the music <so Pink Floyd guys may do some different things on stage but they had to have the timing of the playing pretty much the same>.

 

 

 

The show culminates in a moment midway where David Gilmour is playing Comfortably Numb at the top of The Wall just as the last blocks are being placed.

 

<it was very cool by the way and David Gilmour has a wonderful playing style … oh, a side note … I didn’t write this but this summarizes why Comfortably Numb remains an awesome song to listen to …

“There’s something that Gilmour can do with his guitar that so many of the others can’t – speak to me. The solo in “Comfortably Numb” isn’t just notes being played, it isn’t just fingers moving up and down the board. It’s Gilmour’s version of poetry, of resonance and of emotion. It’s singing without the words. What some artists can do with their voices, Gilmour can do with his guitar and that is never more evident than on the last minutes of “Comfortably Numb”, when Gilmour wraps up all the angst and sadness, the loneliness and emptiness of the song and emotes with his guitar. Each note is like a little pinprick in your heart.” … I couldn’t have said this better>

 

Anyway.

 

All three rehearsals banged their way thru the stage set up note by note getting it right. And if the concert ended up being maybe 2 ½ hours long the rehearsals could be 4 ½ hours long.

Maybe more.

 

 

Here is the deal.

 

 

Opening night.

The show and the music were perfectly in sync.

And while the rehearsals were fun to watch it took on a completely different level when all of a sudden the arena went from 25 random spectators and the band doodling around in dolfin shorts (ok. Maybe that was Wham!) to thousands of people enthralled with this musical logistical extravaganza.

 

 

It kinda sent a shiver down my spine.

 

 

I can’t even imagine the thrill the band had that night as it all unfolded as planned <and rehearsed>.

 

 

Bands make it look so easy I think we sometimes forget all the work they do beforehand to get it right <on a side note. probably the coolest rehearsal I ever worked was Journey’s before an LA Coliseum arena concert where Steve Perry sat on the sound table beside me singing in a wireless mike watching the band work thru Lovin Touchin Squeezin and the light guys worked out the light switches on stage>.

 

 

Anyway.

 

 

Pink Floyd. They had 7 shows (plus the three rehearsals).

 

 

You know.

 

They could have worked their way into a groove. Nope. 3 full rehearsals and rocked it from note one on show one. By maybe by night three I could tell you without seeing the stage where they were in building that stupid Wall by what was playing.

 

 

And, yes, by night seven I wasn’t comfortably numb.

 

 

Just numb.

 

 

And tempted to shoot myself I was so tired of it. But also by the last show I could tell you exactly what was going to happen not by the music but by what time it was. The band wasn’t looking at a clock but in their heads they knew exactly how much time they had.

This was rehearsed and amazing.

 

 

And, oh by the way, it didn’t look “practiced or stiff” (which is the typical argument young people have for not wanting to rehearse). Instead, because they knew it so well they could relax and figure out where they could ad lib a little.

Despite the numbness at the end of it I saw the value of rehearsing. And I never lost that lesson I collected at that time. I figured if Pink Floyd was doing it sure as hell wasn’t too good for me.

It is interesting. All those bands do it. You may not realize it but it is driven by pride in their work.

 

 

They want you to recognize the important stuff – their music – and rehearsing insures nothing stupid gets in the way of that.

 

 

It is interesting.

All those great speakers in business do it.

 

 

You may not realize it but it is driven by pride in their work. They want you to recognize the important stuff – the ideas – and rehearsing insures nothing stupid gets in the way of that.

 

 

I love music.

I love what goes into creating music.

 

 

And by watching closely I learned to love taking care of the background details and preparation necessary to be sure people got to enjoy the music.

 

That is why I rehearse even to this day.

 

 

I love words.

And I love ideas.

And I love taking care of them.

 

 

And rehearsing is one way to take care of something I love. Sounds simple. But for some reason we fight it.

 

Next concert you see?

 

do your best rulesWatch.

 

 

Nothing hasn’t been rehearsed.

And you enjoy it more because they did.

 

Well.

 

There is a business lesson in itself.

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Written by Bruce