Sunday, July 7, 2013

Three Generations to Greatness

"It's one generation from a pickaxe to a putter. And the next generation from a tuxedo to a tramp." - Will Rogers

A while back, I wrote a blog post about motivating children and that reminded me of what is considered the ways to greatness for classical pianists. It is called, Three Generations to Greatness. It is what the classical music world considers the minimum for a pianist to be in order to become truly great. Basically; it takes three generations of family effort and diligence to create one piano child prodigy. 

I thought that this story might be useful to those of us who sometimes wonder why they are on this earth and what their purpose is.

I say this because, I, too, sometimes wonder what the legacy is that I will leave on this planet after I die. I have begun to have these thoughts because of the recent death of my own father. Of course, I loved my mother and father and miss them so... But what was their legacy?

Take my father for example, his legacy is much different than my mother's because things changed greatly for our family after my mom's death. Our family fell apart. What does that make my dad's legacy?

A former marine. Three sons who do not speak to each other. Some very old photos of his mom and family and a marine dress uniform that he left to me to care for as he said he wasn't sure that my brothers would do so properly.

Is that all? I'm sure that's all. Unfortunately. And, when you stop to think about it, in the overall picture of things, that's just about all for 99.99999999999% of all the world's people.

In 2003, I started writing for blogs. In 2005, I wrote my first and only book. Why did I write these books? Well, I wanted to leave a legacy... Something to be remembered by. I want to write another book soon too. Oh, and I want to do oil painting again...


I look at the old and tattered photos that my father gave me of his dear mother. Is this her legacy?

The other day, I went to meet a friend named Kieruto Duits who runs a business called "Old Photos of Japan." There Kieruto takes old photos of the people and places of old Japan and lovingly immortalizes them for future use. This seems a wonderful way to leave a legacy. Guys like Kieruto, I know, will take care of my old photos of my mother taken before the war. I am going to give mine to him. I am also going to give him some important family photos of Japanese soldiers before WWII.

But I digress...

Most of us haven't an very old photos or we haven't written a book (my book is terrible and a waste!) neither do most of us paint like Picasso or sing like the Beatles nor compose like Mozart....

But! Aha! There is a key there! Mozart! Music!... Maybe our legacy is not in and of ourselves, perhaps our legacy is in our children! The title of this post is "Three Generations to Greatness." It is true. "Three Generations to Greatness" is what is said it takes, in the world of classical music, for a child to become a great pianist.

Let me explain how, what you do today, can lead to greatness someday using the example of "Three Generations to Greatness." First off, more detail as to what exactly is the three generations.

Here's the story: It is said that it requires three generations of effort and parenting to build a piano genius. The typical story goes like this:

Grandfather works hard as a day laborer. He struggles and saves. He builds a good business. He doesn't want his children to struggle and suffer as he did. He wants them to become doctors or lawyers. He wants them to study culture and art. He makes the children take piano lessons. He works hard and sends them to good universities. 

The children never become good pianists. Why? Because, after lessons, when they are home, there is no one to play and practice with. After all, we all know that you become proficient or great when you practice and hone your craft with someone who knows that craft.

Later, the children grow up. They become doctors or lawyers. They want their children to have the same or better. They want their children (the grandchildren) to study culture and art. They make the children take piano lessons. They work hard to send their children to good universities. 

Same as grandfather, right? Wrong. Now, these grandchildren, when they come home from piano practice (once a week for one hour) they have someone who knows how to play and practice. They have someone at home whom they can enjoy the piano with.

If that someone is their mother and she is working at home, then these children have a massive head-start on others who have no one to practice or play with.

This is why, say traditional musicians, such as American country or Jazz musicians, are thought to be so great: They start practicing with grandpa when they were little kids. That's why they are so proficient and such awesome musicians when they are 25-years-old! 

The moral of the story? Even though what you do now may not seem, at first, to be any sort of creation of a legacy, remember that what you teach your children, they will teach theirs. 

Treat your children with respect. Learn what motivates them. Help them flourish and bloom. Create your legacy.


Anonymous said...

"I thought that this story might be useful to those of us who sometimes wonder why they are on this earth and what their purpose is."


Easy to see (for some?) as a parent, not so easy for those who are not.

The Will Rogers quote makes it seem like a tramp is such a bad thing,... as say in comparison to a politician?

"Grandfather works hard as a day laborer. He struggles and saves. He builds a good business. He doesn't want his children to struggle and suffer as he did. He wants them to become doctors or lawyers."

Unless of course he thinks doctors and lawyers are all lying no good s.o.b.'s.

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.”

(Marcia Angell, MD, The New York Review of Books, January 15, 2009)

SO i guess maybe the Grandfather meant doctors like Dr. Mercola?

Anyway, as I read this I envisioned the Grandfather wanting to pass on the labor business to the son rather than create a lawyer.

I also envision the Grandfather sending the child to piano school and the child hates it.

Pardon my contrary rant.
I liked the blog entry anyway.

Due to a conversation I'm involved with elsewhere, Now I shift gears and wonder what the D.U.I. checkpoints in Japan look like.

After reading this blog for awhile, I wonder if there are any?
If not, might be a good place to send a grandchild.

... And what's Moby Dick got to do with any of this?

Just thinking out loud.

- IndividualAudienceMember

mike in tokyo rogers said...

Thanks IndividualAudienceMember!
The DUI checkpoints? Yes. They've started that nonsense in Japan too. I've been stopped 3 times, but I do not participate and simply reply, "No thank you!" I also tell them, if they get feisty, ""Do you have any reason to suspect that I have been drinking? No? Then, no thank you and may I go on my way?" Roads in japan are very narrow and they've let me go all three times because I just sit there and then, when dozens and dozens of cars start backing up, they freak out and let me go....Here is an account of the last time I went through this sort of thing (not a DUI) at Narita airport. :

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