Making Excuses: Why Do We Bother?

Hugh Richardson
15 min readOct 30, 2014

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Regardless of the genre, I get very excited watching musicians of very genuine quality perform. I have been fortunate enough to see some that have had a huge impression on me. I have seen Pat Metheny, Chris Thile, Herbie Hancock amongst others and there’s something about seeing musicians of this level perform that always interests me.

Many of the performances mentioned above were ones that I attended with fellow musicians and, thinking back on those experiences now, what’s interesting to me is how we all seemed to go through a similar process during and after those shows. First of all we would all be inspired by what we saw. Next we would talk about how much we aspired to be of the standard that we had witnessed. Then finally would come the most significant stage of this process. We would, often without knowing it, decide on a mindset with which we would proceed our musical studies. I saw many people who looked at these great musicians and thought “look what hard work can achieve. It’s great to see that reaching this standard is possible. I’ll go practice”. All too often, however, I would find myself being on the other side of this fence. I would be the person saying “look at what (insert great musician) has achieved. They have done so because they are a genius. I’m not. I could never get there”.

This might well be a situation you have gone through or are going through yourself. Many of my students have said things like this to me before and I have been through this too many times to count. But there is much more to reaching this level than people who are talented and those who aren’t. When I was younger, and much more prone to saying “I’m not a genius like XYZ musician. I could never do what he does”, I didn’t understand what I was saying nor what I was doing to my development as a musician when this thought entered my mind.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, being a great musician requires a lot of hard work. Hard work requires discipline. And to be disciplined means not letting yourself off the hook. An example of this can be found in my early student life. I had been in London for two years and was studying hard. I had heard several of my tutors (rightly) say “you need to have a life outside of music”. This is true. Many musicians that I know have found it hard take a break from music. Not only is it their…

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Hugh Richardson

This blog is about my musical experiences working as a bass player, composer, arranger and teacher in London and what I feel they have taught me so far. Enjoy!