Sir Richard Branson

I never cease to be amazed by the spinoffs of music lessons.  Not many of us pause to think much about this, but you may remember that Dr Suzuki is quoted as saying,  “Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens, noble human beings.”

I am a long term admirer of Sir Richard Branson’s rise to international business success, so I  thought that it might be fun to do a musician’s take on his business skills as they are set out in his best selling autobiography, “Screw It, Let’s Do It.”

1. “Remain focused on fulfilling your business mission. Never allow adversity divert your attention and efforts.”  Anyone who has learnt to play an instrument will have hugely improved powers of focus. This is the first and most important spinoff of developing musical ability.

2. “Learn to use your brain power. Critical thinking is the key to creative problem solving in business.”  Learning instrumental technique is all about learning the best way to solve knotty problems.

3. “Build your own business team. Survival in business requires a synergy of skills.”  Early lessons with a teacher and practice helper are the basis of a winning team.  Successful young musicians learn to use their music team to the best advantage.  Suzuki teachers often refer to this as the Suzuki triangle – a symbiotic relationship between the child, teacher and parent.

4. “If you are a new startup company, try not to arouse the interest or suspicion of your competition; especially if they are a bigger company. They can crush you while you are still in your startup phase. Lie low while still strengthening your bottom line.”  A clever musician will have learned early that comparison and competition is the way to self doubt and failure.  A young musician learns to take baby steps, getting the foundations right before ruining everything with a bad performance experience.

5. “Grow internally first. Strengthen your bottom line first before considering external growth.”  Every musician learns, that you can’t make beautiful music, without getting your basic technique right.

6. “Focus on your business strengths and keep its weaknesses away from the competition or public.”  Clever musicians know that you should never draw attention to mistakes in a performance.  You are giving a beautiful gift to your audience, so help them to enjoy the best moments.

7. “Learn to live on the edge.”  Musicians know how to do this.  Every performance has its knife edge moments, and they can make the music wonderfully exhilarating.

8. “Be creative. Innovate consistently on the little things that the big companies ignore. Little things often make big differences in business.”  It’s the little things that you can do quickly and easily and the baby steps that you practise, which build musical skill.  Young musicians learn skills creatively, through fun and games.

9. “Listen to the customer’s complaint and act fast.”  Don’t musicians get lots of practice doing this at every music lesson?

10. “Meet regularly with your business team and brainstorm. Intricate business problems are mostly resolved at brainstorming sessions.”  Young musicians who improve the fastest, are the most open to daily advice from their teacher and practice helper.

11. “Run lean – avoid unnecessary expenses.”  A well balanced musician is able to work economically without over taxing energy resources.  If you want your child to practise willingly tomorrow, it helps to stop practising today, before you become tired, bored or just plain overwhelmed.

12. “Don’t hesitate to seek external help or advice where need be. Sometimes, it takes an external, emotionally unattached individual to detect your business flaws and render unbiased advice.”  I find that guest teachers often help my students discover what I have been trying to teach them for years.  Life and music are much easier when we learn to accept this.

13. “Follow your instincts and live with the consequences.”  Every musical performance has its instinctive element.  Sink or swim, we all learn to live with it.

14. “Avoid litigations. They are expensive and consume loads of time but if you have got a good case and a better chance of winning, then fight it out.”  A happy musician never bothers with putting others down.  A well nurtured musician has enough self esteem not to be bothered by personal attacks.

15. “Free publicity and word of mouth is probably the best and cheapest form of advertising. Learn to use it to your advantage.”  Successful musicians learn a generosity of soul, which teaches them to understand this.

16. “Seek out strategic alliances.  They are essential to growth and provide resistance to bigger competition.”  Making music with a great musician makes you sound 100% better!

17. “If after all this you eventually fail, don’t take it personally. Don’t be ashamed to start all over again.”  Isn’t this is what a child learns in almost every music lesson?  When you try and try, again and again, you will eventually succeed, especially when you learn to treat mistakes as signposts.

If you agree that good things come from developing good habits, you might want to take a step forward and give your child a great practice habit with Our Grand Practice Adventure.  Click on the link to see how you can do it in easy steps, starting with the first 10 days.

Here is a free link to Sir Richard Branson’s book,   “Screw It, Let’s Do It.”

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