I was mucking around on guitars in a music shop when an assistant asked me if I was self-taught. I replied that I was and asked her how she knew. She said that trained musicians played pieces whereas self-taught people tended to improvise (the technical term when mucking around on an acoustic is “noodling”). She kindly said her preference was for self-taught because it was more interesting to listen to.
Certainly, one of the things I enjoy about playing guitar is improvising on the spot, just picking it up and playing whatever comes into my head and fingers, creating something that will disappear the minute I stop.
But being self-taught cuts both ways. If you’re a genius like Paul McCartney, you don’t know the rules so you create all sorts of extraordinary music that changes the world, not just the music industry.
But I’m not a genius.
My son Dominic learned piano and theory (largely at his mother’s insistence. Yes, he is grateful now), and my brother also learned music, including as a drummer. They operate really well together as the rhythm section in our trio (playing this Friday night at Jervois Wine Bar starting at 6.30pm).
We were learning a new song and they explained that we had to come in after a count of two rather than four. I said “I don’t do counts. I just remember that I should come in before I think I should, and then I jump in”. They laughed, it was not news to them, as I get it mostly right. Mostly.
You know, I’d be a lot better if I actually knew what I was doing.
So how about you? Or your management team? Are they McCartneys or MickAshbys? Genius or almost good enough to get away with it most of the time? Is what they’ve taught themselves what they need or just what’s stuck? How much better would they be if they were knew what they were doing?
Let me give you a clue. Click here to see what our participants in our Active Management programme say about life as a manager now that they know what they’re doing.