“Music is a proud, temperamental mistress. Give her the time and attention she deserves, and she is yours. Slight her and there will come a day when you call and she will not answer. So I began sleeping less to give her the time she needed.”
Patrick Rothfuss


This is a CSC (that security job I had in college) lesson. The idea is practice makes perfect (and try that lesson out on a short attention span 19 year old college boy). 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.

I have always been a rehearse type of guy in business. I cannot remember the last meeting/presentation/discussion/podcast I hadn’t written down what I wanted to say or plan out some things to say. And said those thoughts out loud rehearsing portions and how things sound. I think a lot of people believe I think fairly well on my feet, but 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. Where did this get instilled in me (because I am fairly sure no one likes practicing)?


I give credit to The Wall. That would be Pink Floyd’s The Wall.


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). 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. Yes, I see inflatable pigs in nightmares sometimes.

But here is the deal.

While the band practiced parts of songs these rehearsals were full rehearsals – from the first note to the last. Screw ups and all. And with the tricky choreography. The 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) and the Wall is completed. What I am saying is that all three rehearsal days banged their way thru the stage set up, note by note, getting it right.

Here is the deal. Opening night the show and the music was perfectly in sync. And while the rehearsals were fun when all of a sudden the arena went from 25 random spectators and the band doodling around in dolfin shorts to thousands of people stuffed into the arena, 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.

  • ** 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 into a microphone watching the band work thru Lovin Touchin Squeezin and the light guys worked out the light switches on stage. He did this right after the sequence I mentioned in my “things you don’t see at a concert” piece.


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 in 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. 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, 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.

Written by Bruce