Sunday, January 06, 2008

Making your own luck

I recently heard a story about the golfer Sam Sneed, who, years ago, was asked if there was any luck connected with golf. Sneed replied that there was: the more he practiced, the more luck he had.

Partly by chance I came across a list that outlines four varieties of luck as defined by J.H. Austin.

1. Pure luck or blind chance, which is independent from anything else we might say or do.
2. Good luck that occurs in the context of general exploratory behavior (i.e. persistence or curiosity) which increases the likelihood of "happy accidents."
3. Good luck in the context of the prepared mind (a mind that has the ability to recognize connections)
4. Good luck that appears in the context of personal activities that might be removed from what you happen to be working on.

Musically speaking nobody can control the first variety, either as a composer or a performing musician. The second variety of luck is the kind that happens when we work on music: writing and writing about music, practicing, rehearsing, and performing. The third kind of luck happens when you extend yourself, go out into the world, listen to unfamiliar music, seek out new musical experiences, and read about music. The fourth kind of luck is luck that happens when you extend yourself in extra-musical ways, always remembering that as musicians it is our job to reach out to a larger world, even if it is not currently reaching out to us.

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