Rep­e­ti­tion is the key

Stabroek News Sunday - - REGIONAL NEWS -

the Caribbean or do­ing week­end gigs across North Amer­ica. Do the math. We were play­ing four hours a night, roughly 350 nights a year, ev­ery year for 14 years. When you see mu­si­cians per­form­ing, and the mu­sic is solid, in ev­ery case that kind of rep­e­ti­tion is be­hind the seem­ingly ef­fort­less pre­sen­ta­tion tak­ing place. You have done the ma­te­rial so of­ten, in front of dif­fer­ent au­di­ences, on nights when you’re not feel­ing great, or the crowd is small, or the sound sys­tem is act­ing up, or when the crowd is rowdy. You have learned what works. You have learned the craft of what you’re en­gaged with; you have be­come a sea­soned prod­uct. You have been honed.

Fur­ther­more, it’s not just in mu­sic. It is true in the­atre gen­er­ally and in per­sons who are ac­com­plished pub­lic speak­ers, but it is also true in sport. Right now, we’re watch­ing two cham­pi­onship events – the French Open Ten­nis Slam and the Amer­i­can NBA Bas­ket­ball Fi­nals – fea­tur­ing ath­letes who have been honed to a fine edge by that over-and-over rep­e­ti­tion. Rafael Nadal, at the French, is show­ing it as he ad­justs his game to coun­ter­act what­ever his cur­rent op­po­nent brings to the court; pres­sur­ing the weak back­hand, or em­ploy­ing the drop shot when the op­pos­ing player is too deep. Nadal has been there be­fore. He has the miles on him. Sim­i­larly in the bas­ket­ball clash be­tween the Golden State War­riors and the Cleve­land Cava­liers – the ex­pe­ri­ence from play­ing the game over and over, night after night, year round is so ob­vi­ous in one de­li­cious play after an­other. There was a vivid ex­am­ple in one of the re­cent matches when the War­riors Stephen Curry, com­ing up court with the ball, was be­ing ha­rassed by a Cava­liers de­fender. As he was on the move at 3-point range, the de­fender reached in and knocked the ball away from Curry; in an in­stant, Curry jumped for­ward, grabbed the loose ball, and in one mo­tion let loose a long arc­ing shot that went clean through the bas­ket for the score.

Curry’s ac­tion was part tal­ent, of course, but a key fac­tor in it is that the player has made that im­pos­si­blelook­ing shot in prac­tice, time and again, prob­a­bly more times than he can count, so that the mus­cle mem­ory of that ac­tion is em­bed­ded. He is sim­ply do­ing in pub­lic some­thing he has done in pri­vate count­less times, on count­less courts, in count­less cities, only net. Rep­e­ti­tion is the key. Look at Le­bron James shoot­ing free throws; it is clear he is just re­peat­ing a groove he has honed in prac­tice. The one step set be­fore the shot is the same; the knee bend is the same; his body ris­ing up­ward is the same, and the re­lease of the arm is in the same arc, like a pis­ton, as the balls drop in the net. The rep­e­ti­tion is em­bed­ded in the ath­lete; he has al­ready spot­ted the vari­a­tion be­fore the shot fails, so that in a re­cent ten­nis match at the Open one could see the Ar­gen­tinian player Juan Mar­tin del Potro at­tempt a drop shot with his op­po­nent at the base line and there was del Potro vis­i­bly gri­mac­ing as his rac­quet struck the ball – he al­ready knew from the feel of the shot that it had gone wrong, and the ball fall­ing into the net con­firmed it.

To re­vert to where I started, it is very un­for­tu­nate that when one looks at the cur­rent Guyana mu­sic scene the short­age of places to per­form means that the op­por­tu­nity for those re­peated per­for­mances is sadly lack­ing here for our bud­ding tal­ents; our young mu­si­cians and vo­cal­ists are not get­ting that repet­i­tive “ev­ery night” work. Un­less and un­til that changes, these tal­ented per­sons are not gain­ing by the re­quired rep­e­ti­tions; they are not be­ing honed.

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