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I used to read music fluently. Growing up, I was always able to read any score as well as I can read English. I used to play the piano, sing semi-professionally and play a little guitar.

I studied music at University but after that, I haven’t spent much time on playing or performing music. Or on reading music.

A few weeks ago, I picked up a really simple (like REALLY simple) score for a piano piece and I struggled to read it at all. 20 years ago, I wouldn’t have had any issues reading that score. I would have read it effortlessly.

Sadly, this is no longer true.

I can no longer read music fluently quite simply because I stopped practicing.

And the same is true for almost anything. It’s certainly the same for process improvement. In my line of work, I regularly observe and analyse processes and I am reasonably adept at spotting waste and inefficiency. I’m not good at this because I am inherently wonderful or talented – it’s just that I have spent a lot of time practicing it.

And I keep practicing it today.

But I know that if I stopped doing it, in 10 years’ time I would be far less proficient at process improvement as I am today.

I’m sure that if I started to practice music again, I would get better. If I worked at it long and hard enough, I may even get back to the level I was at as a teenager. But it won’t happen without practice.

You’ve got to keep practising.

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