What #OWS Can Learn From Paul Green And The School Of Rock

My son has been taking guitar lessons and performing in live shows with the School of Rock in Vienna, Virginia since May, 2010.  Although I’m sure I have seen it before, tonight I really noticed the School of Rock Philosophy posted on the wall while I waited for my son to finish his lesson.  What follows is not just applicable to the School of Rock, but to being successful at life in general, and I couldn’t help adding a few of my own thoughts (in italics) on how it particularly applies to those currently “occupying” cities all over the United States, demanding things like free college tuition.

1.  The School of Rock is not a democracy, it is a benevolent dictatorship.

2.  It is not the notes you play – it is how you play them.

3.  Whatever “talent” is, it is not quantifiable.  The only thing that matters here is hard work and courage.  The difference between our best students and the rest of you is simply dedication, drive, and hours of focused practice.

This is what sets the 1% apart from the rest of us.  Not everyone wins first place (even if everyone gets a trophy), not every band gets a recording contract or a world tour, and not everyone is destined to attend college.

4.  If you do not conceive of yourself as a rock star no one else will either.

This is true of anything in life, however it is a NECESSARY but not a SUFFICIENT condition.  In other words, just because you see yourself as a rock star (or whatever else you want to be) does not mean everyone else will.  Always have a contingency plan.  Or three.

5.  If you never make an excuse for the rest of your life, you will be very happy and successful.

But, but, the 1%!  Wall Street!  My student loans!  Big pharma!  Big oil!

6.  The moment of sublime performance occurs when your ego dissipates into the music and you are not playing for anyone, including yourself, and are able to achieve a zen-like state of just playing music for the music itself.

This is a corollary to 5.  Once your ego dissipates, it is easier to see how, just maybe, you might be to blame for some of your problems.  Then you can stop making excuses and start solving them.

7.  Learning your songs is not the end of the process, it is the beginning.

In other words, doing the bare minimum isn’t enough (also see number 3).

8.  Until you are as good as the musicians we study, you should practice until you bleed.

See number 3 and number 7.

9.  You are expected to perform on stage; not just play the music but put on a show. Be entertaining.

See number 3, 7, and 8.

10.  Complaining is not allowed.

Everybody needs a shoulder to cry on every now and then, but don’t make it a lifestyle.

11.  Ingratitude is the worst.  Be grateful for this opportunity that your parents have given you.  Show us you are grateful by stepping up to the challenge of the music.  Don’t complain.  Make sure you are living up to your potential.  This is an opportunity that will most likely never present itself again in your life.  Live it.

This one is written specifically for kids attending School of Rock, but replace the words “parents” and “music” with whatever is appropriate in your situation.  The important thing is to always be grateful and to show that gratitude by working as hard as you can.  Don’t expect anything, so if you do get something, it will always be MORE than you expected.

12.  If you have an issue, take it up with your music director or the school management.

This goes to the heart of the problem with #OWS.  If you have a problem, you need to address it with someone who can actually do something about it.  What #OWS is doing is the equivalent of a School of Rock student sitting on the back porch and sulking because he didn’t get the lead guitar part on a particular song, hoping that someone will come along and notice his bad mood and ask him what’s wrong.  It is childish and ineffective.

13.  Act like a professional and you will be one.

Similar to number 4.

One final thought…School of Rock (formerly known as The Paul Green School of Rock Music) has over 70 franchise locations and is adding nine new locations between September 2011 and February 2012, and nobody had to occupy anything.  #OccupySchoolOfRock

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