The Maestro And Me

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.
- John Wooden

Once again I had spent my evening listening to and in awe of Andre Segovia, the master of the classical guitar.  Seeing him perform at a recital three years before had been my inspiration to pick up the instrument and start lessons.  Now I was a serious student of the instrument he legitimized and was studying with the great Cuban teacher, Alberto Valdez Blain in New York’s Greenwich Village.  The next day I drove to my lesson through a sleet storm, oblivious to the weather, preoccupied by the previous night’s revelation.  Segovia had played a piece that I had been studying so much better than I could ever hope to, that I felt my study was pointless.

By the time I reached the studio, I was completely deflated.  Alberto asked why, and I told him.  He took my guitar, sat me down in the kitchen, poured me a glass of Rioja and gave me advice I will never forget. He said, “When I was intimidated by the accomplishments of any master or anyone that I respected, I let that person enter my imagination and talk to me, but only as if he were still at the same stage in his experience that I was in mine.” 

Alberto told me to concentrate on a master’s wisdom and not his accomplishments -– to forget about journey’s end and concentrate on the next step.     

We are all different.  Each one of us has varying amounts of talent and intellect.  Some people are brighter, faster, more talented, stronger and better educated.  The only useful comparison we can make to the people we admire is to measure how we utilize our potential against how they utilize theirs.  All other comparisons are a waste of time.