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Sharon Bill Music Tutor & Author

Will You? It's a battle of the mind!


The battle of the mind is the greatest battle we all face. In this article I suspect I'm preaching to myself! The original article had the title "Will You?" but I think I should rename it "Will I?" to keep things in perspective!

“Will you?” Two very short words which are so very easy to say but are so very, very difficult to follow through.

Whatever we aim to achieve in life everything begins in the mind. Nearly all of our obstacles boil down to a mental battle. If we want to lose weight, give up smoking, cook healthier meals, learn to swim or - of course - learn to play a musical instrument the aspect of willpower is exactly the same.

Anyone who knows me best and even those who love me dearly could never describe me as a routine based and organised person. They may (I hope) be able to tell you a number of my strong points but they could never, with honesty, be able to suggest that I have much will power. Nevertheless, over the years I have managed to override my flitting attention span to pin myself down to maintain sufficient application and practise to attain a certain measure of musicianship. It didn’t happen by magic and it wasn’t an absolute breeze which came with total ease. I did actually work hard and I still do - there’s no standing still, you have to keep ‘greasing the wheels’. Despite my natural inclination how did I keep working at it? Of course, the answer is obvious. My desire and WILL to play was more overriding than my inclination not to bother.

It must be a middle-aged thing, but I was thinking back to my school days. (I now teach piano at the school I used to attend so it’s bound to come to remembrance.) I wasn’t one of the “in crowd” of the music department - or I didn’t think so at the time, but I couldn’t resist the urge to join in. That inexpressible desire to be able to create music through an inanimate instrument was compelling. Thankfully my tutor managed to instil some sense of discipline and I miraculously recognised that some routine of sorts was the only way. Somehow I grasped the concept of regular application. Even if I balked and evaded it at times the overall benchmark was in place.

My piano tutor is still a close friend and I often blush as we chat when we remember my misdemeanours and absenteeism. She assures me that I was a better student than I remember. I think she is just being kind. I may not “see it through” in many things but, to a certain degree, I stood the course and continue to choose with my will to spend time practising rather than always taking the line of least resistance.

We all have goals: Whether it’s taking a daily walk, not eating that slice of cake or sitting at the piano for 20 minutes each day the battle is in the mind. It’s these small, daily decisions that shape our future. Life will always crash in but, in the end, the decision will always lie with us. The question - easy to say but hard to do - is always, “Will you?”