Practice, Practice, Practice!

A young rising star of American Opera was accorded the highest honor, an invitation to perform Verdi’s Rigloletto at La Scala in Milan, where rich and poor alike appreciate and know their opera as nowhere else. He prepared and practiced with an intensity that eclipsed all his previous efforts.  The big night came.  The theater was packed.  When the  moment came for his first solo aria, Questa o Quella, all fear and hesitation was left behind.  He sang his heart out and the audience responded with equal abandon, calling for an encore.  With his chest puffing out with pride, the young tenor sang an encore, digging deeper, finding even more emotional depth.  Again, a call for an encore, and then again.  Finally the young man called out to the audience. “Thank you, thank you, but I cannot sing another encore.  The rest of the company is waiting to proceed.”  At that, an old man rose from his seat, pointed a bony finger at him, and said, “You son of ….you’re going to sing another encore, and another and another, until you get it right!”

Now this….Pau(Pablo) Casals,  was perhaps the 20th century’s preeminent master of the cello. He was still practicing three and sometimes more hours a day well into his 90’s.  One day one of his friends asked him, “Senor Casals, you are the master, a virtuoso of this instrument, everyone knows it and acknowledges it. Why do you practice three hours a day?” His reply? “Well, I’m beginning to notice some improvement.”

Finally, here’s a quote from Walt Whitman.
“Now understand me well. Out of every fruition of success, no matter what, comes forth something to make a new effort necessary.”

Dear readers.  Best wishes to you in all your endeavors.  Now get to work!


  1. Hi Bob,
    Great post! Will keep it as a reminder! : )
    Just one thing: it’s Pau (Catalan) Casals, not Pablo (Castilian Spanish).
    Hugs from Barcelona,

  2. I love this story!

    I once read that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. I don’t know how true that is but it makes one wonder what 20,000 hours of practice would do. 🙂

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