Virtues for Virtuosos: Discipline
As we start off a new year, we’re also excited to cycle back through our monthly highlighted virtues! At the beginning of the month, we talked a little bit about setting SMART goals – with your goals in mind, now it’s time to think about how to follow through with them. That’s where discipline comes in!
Discipline can mean lots of different things, but for our purposes we’ll use this definition: An activity, exercise, or regimen that develops or improves a skill. As with most good things, learning to play the piano takes quite a bit of it! Taking piano lessons without practicing daily (or almost daily) is often nothing more than frustrating. On the flip side, having the discipline to do even a little bit of consistent practice can be so rewarding!
LDS Apostle Elder N. Eldon Tanner shared this story about the benefits of discipline:
“Several years ago my oldest grandson who had been a deacon for a year came to me and said, “Grandpa, I have been a hundred percenter ever since I was ordained a deacon a year ago.” I said, “What do you mean by a hundred percenter?” Of course I knew, but he responded, “I haven’t missed a sacrament meeting, Sunday School, or priesthood meeting since I was ordained a deacon.”
I congratulated him and said, “John, if you will continue to be a hundred percenter until you are old enough to go on a mission, I will finance your mission.” He smiled and said, “I’ll do it.”
I thought I was perfectly safe, but he set about to be a hundred percenter. I remember on two occasions how he disciplined himself in order to accomplish his undertaking. One time his uncle invited him to go for a trip with him and his boys where they would be gone over Sunday. John said, “Is there any place I can attend my meetings on Sunday?” and as he was told there was not, he said, “No, I can’t go. I am going to be a hundred percenter,” and therefore sacrificed a lovely trip to the ocean and an island on which they were going to celebrate.
Another time near a weekend he broke his leg. The first thing he asked his doctor was, “Will I be able to attend Church on Sunday? I have to be a hundred percenter.” He came, of course, on crutches.
When he became 19 years of age, he said, “Grandpa, I have been a hundred percenter ever since we made that deal.” I was very happy to finance him on his mission. This achievement has been a great influence in his life. It is not so difficult for him to discipline himself and do those things which are right for him to do and which will bring him success.”
Pretty amazing, right? That kind of discipline is exactly what makes great musicians, too! Whether or not being disciplined comes naturally to you, it’s a trait that anyone can develop. Discipline is all about making the choice to continue those good habits you’re working on, especially when it’s hard to do so. The next time you “don’t feel like practicing” or think you’re too tired to play that scale one more time, choose to do it anyway. Each time you do so adds a little more strength to your own willpower for the next time a hard situation comes up. Eventually, you’ll be able to do things you never imagined – both on and off the piano bench!