When there is a will, there is a way

The story of a young woman who mastered the art of playing sape only after two months caught my attention recently.

My initial reaction after reading the story was “Wow! How fantastic!” I am no musician but I have always been intrigued by the sape, especially the interesting sounds that it makes.

A traditional lute of the Orang Ulu, mainly the Kayans and Kenyahs in Borneo, the sape is carved from a single bole of wood. The melodious sape music is traditionally played during festivals.

In the course of my work as a journalist, I have met a handful of sape musicians and interviewed them. Although the sape has been described as a two-stringed guitar, sape lessons are not easily available to those who wish to embark on them. You have to find a special tutor.

Iyurni Ului, the young woman who mastered the art of playing sape after two months, took her lessons from her husband Donny Bilong.

She told Bernama that she wanted to learn to play the sape for a long time but the instrument was not available to her. She only learnt to play the sape belonging to her husband after she married him.

Iyurni confessed that she had problems reading the music notes at first but with her husband’s guidance, she was able to do so in a short time. Two months after learning to play the sape, she and her husband entertained an audience at a thanksgiving ceremony during a ground breaking ceremony for a new church in Belaga.

Donny told Bernama: “Iyurni is diligent and practises almost every day.”

When there is a will, there is a way and practice makes perfect. That’s how I view the story of Iyumi and her love for sape.

Nevertheless, although she has mastered the art of playing the sape, there are, no doubt, many other secrets Iyurni needs to know about the sape in order to become a really accomplished player. Since she is only 22 years old, I guess time is on her side.

Indeed, in life, everything is possible if we have the will to achieve it. However, when it comes to mastering a skill, we need first and foremost a good teacher or mentor or trainer to expose us to the new skill.

Once we have picked up the skill, we need to practise, practise and practise until we become unconsciously competent.

How long does it take to become a master at something? According to Dustin Grinnell in his online article “How We Learn a Skill: The Journey from Novice to Master”, whether it is non-fiction writing or wakeboarding, you need to have practised for 10,000 hours or roughly ten years to become a genius at something.

He quoted Malcolm Gladwell, author of the book “Outliers: The Story of Success” who cited work from expertise researchers on the matter.

Gladwell pointed out that every great composer practised for at least 10 years before they wrote their master work. For example, while Mozart was composing at 11, his work was not that good at that age. He only produced something truly “masterful” when he was about 23 years old, approximately 10 years after beginning.

Do you know that if you’ve mastered a skill, you have to keep on practising to remain at the top of your field? That is why refresher courses are important for teachers and other professionals. So, remember to keep on practising in order to remain a master in your field.

My friends, do you have a skill you want to learn today? Go ahead. Today is only the seventh day of 2019. Go and learn that skill and be a master of it 10 years from now!