Slow but Steady Wins the Race
Aesop's Fables, in choral presentation, featured in my submission to our local quarterly village magazine. As ever, there was a moral to the story…
For our next concert the choir I sing with is rehearsing settings of Aesop’s fables, composed by Bob Chilcott. Aesop is thought to have been a slave in Ancient Greece sometime during the sixth century BC. It is estimated that he wrote over six hundred fables, each with their own moral wisdom. The first of the fables that is set to music is “The Hare and the Tortoise” and is probably the most famous of all. At the end of each song the moral is spoken, and so the first song ends with the words, “Slow but steady wins the race.”
It’s a fitting fable to put to music as that’s the approach we’ve had to adopt during our rehearsals. We’ve had to commit to attend rehearsals regularly and during rehearsal, except a fifteen minute break, we have to steadily work to learn the correct notes to sing. This is the way that we have to approach learning anything new and it’s certainly the case when learning an instrument - “slow and steady wins the race.” As far as lifestyle allows its always best to practise regularly, in a “little and often" fashion. It doesn’t work if you do nothing for nearly a whole week and then think you can catch up by doing a long session of practise as most of your time will be spent in trying to remember what you’d learned before. If you practise regularly then you won’t waste time trying to catch up on what you’ve forgotten and you will make gradual improvement, even if you don’t think you are. Of course, in real life a hectic schedule means that there are busy times when you don’t get to play as much as you'd like (if at all). But that’s OK, don’t panic and try and "catch up" but just pick up where you left off as best as you can - slow and steady wins the race. It might take a little longer to learn that piece you’ve been working on, but you’ll get there!
The final fable in the collection of songs makes an encouraging piece to close with. The fable of “The Goose and the Swan” tells of a certain rich man who buys two birds from the market. He buys a goose for the table and a swan for its song. The cook goes out in the dark to get the goose ready to eat and mistakenly catches hold of the swan. Threatened with certain death the swan bursts forth into song and makes itself known by its voice, and so saves its own life. The spoken moral at the end of the song is “Music can delay death.” Whilst perhaps exaggerating the benefits of music it certainly encapsulates the truth that music has many healing and uplifting qualities. There are many accounts of singers visiting hospital wards and breathing fresh life and vigour into the patients there. To a less extreme degree we all experience the inspirational nature of music, whether listening or playing ourselves. It’s this inspiration that drives us to maintain the ‘slow and steady’ application to learn an instrument, and there’s always something new to learn.