When we think of those who helped shape who we are, I cannot omit my high school band director, Earl R. Braunhardt. He was a consummate disciplinarian. He expected absolute perfection in musical performance.
Nowadays it's fashionable to applaud mediocrity in performance, as though it's gentler and more respecting of persons. But I'm grateful I had a teacher who expected more of me.
I remember one particular concert as a freshman percussionist where I was to establish a ritard for the rest of the orchestra with a drum solo, and I just blew straight through in allegro fashion. I saw Mr. Braunhardt's pained expression as he tried to regain control with the conductor’s baton.
After that humiliating experience, I worked hard so that I'd never make the same mistake again. By the time I was a senior I was so disciplined that all he’d have to say was “ninety” or “one-forty” (beats per minute) and I could instantly hit the stride as though I had an internal metronome ticking away. It was a good learning experience to work on my shortcomings and gain his trust. And that discipline has affected my art today.
Never overlook the value in your failures—they will help shape your successes.