As I continue to take my first steps after my music degree, I realise more and more just how much what I am doing depends on what I have done. I regularly have to draw from all that I have learnt in my degree, and I can only do many of the things that I do now because of what I have learnt and practised throughout my degree. This is a completely new perspective for me, as I have spent so much of my life looking forward and hoping that what I'm doing will benefit what I want to do later. But now I'm living in the 'later' and looking back, and I'm realising just how crucial preparation is for music.
When playing a solo, learning a new song, or improvising, I can only draw from what I have learnt. The more I learn, the more I have to draw from. The greater my repertoire, technique and theoretical understanding, the greater vernacular I have to communicate through the language of music. Which reminds me of Rule Number Threeâ¦
Now, I like to make up rules and observations based on what I've experienced, seen and learnt, to help myself live life at a high standard. I've boiled most of life down to 5 main rules; five observations that I live my life by. At different times of my life, these observations have had major implications to the way I live my life, and so I strive to follow these rules for the better of me and of those around me. Lately in particular I've noticed the power of my third life rule, which of course proceeds my second life rule (and crowd favourite) "Rule Number Two: Hydration is essential". My third life rule is this: "Rule Number Three: Preparation is the key". I explain this rule two ways: "little picture" and "big picture".
I spent most of my schooling life attending a youth group, the one at which I now lead. When I was a school senior, I was a part of a program called 'Rookies' (as a part of this youth group), which is basically a discipleship program that invested into the core students of the youth ministry, teaching them Christian leadership. One of our tasks each week was to bring a short sermon, and another one of our tasks was to be able to quote a memory verse. As the weeks progressed, I quickly learnt that I could not 'wing' either of these tasks, I had to do work before the program started, thus I would have to come prepared. And this taught me the valuable lesson of Rule Number Three: Preparation is the key, little picture.
I was a part of the 'Rookies' program for one whole year, and stayed faithful with preparing sermons and memorising verses throughout the whole time, even with the (now laughable) pressures of school work. As time progressed, I inadvertently built a habit of preparing sermons, a skill in public speaking and a thirst for the Word of God. Then, the year that I finished school I had the opportunity to go into other schools and teach scripture classes. So there I was, each week, teaching kids' scripture classes, preparing my sermons, speaking them, and often quoting scripture in class.
Now, I would not have been able to do that as well I was if I hadn't been faithful with what I had in my hand to do the year before. That was when I realised that you often only recognise 'preparation' in hindsight. I didn't know that I was going to teach in schools each week, I didn't know that all those skills would come in handy or if they would benefit anyone at all, but as I stayed faithful with what I had, I soon realised God had really been preparing me the whole time.
So in whatever season you're in, do it to the best of your ability because you don't know just how valuable the skills may come in the future. Always work like you are preparing for the next season, because you almost always are.
With whatever doors of opportunity are presented to you, no matter how big or small, remember preparation is the key that can unlock any door of opportunity that you face; so be faithful with it.
Daniel J. Mathew has just completed a Bachelor of Music at Sydney's Wesley Institute and serves as a volunteer in the youth ministry of Hillsong Church, City Campus
Daniel Mathew's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/daniel-mathew.html