PB… What’s Yours?

During the London 2012 Olympics and Para Olympics the term PB (or personal best) was raised and talked about constantly. In the quiet early light of day as I head for New York I begin to wonder what this means to us as individuals. My life has been full of firsts, most notably I am the first person to create and sustain a career as a Solo Percussionist. However I have never quite thought about my achievements as personal bests. I always try to do my best at everything I get involved with and I definitely know there are some things that I am never going to be brilliant at, like maths for example!

I am also competitive and like to win if I play Scrabble or Monopoly and I remember fondly the arguments I had with my brothers when we tried to beat each other at various games.

The need to achieve seems to creep into so many aspects of our daily lives. As the car I am in heads towards the airport, I can see people around me trying to overtake, change lanes, weave in and out of lanes to gain a bit of an advantage. I am not sure why this happens perhaps you know? Everyone seems to be trying to get ahead, in front, or just overtake to arrive a bit sooner, get that favourite parking spot or avoid delays further down the road.

Right on the back of the Olympics Britain is celebrating yet another incredible achievement from our very own Andy Murray. Andy has finally won his first Grand Slam and it makes me so proud, I am enjoying his achievement too – Well done Andy!

The psychology behind achievement is just as interesting. We may all have sensed a great day or a special feeling or simply a resounding YES! when we have achieved our goal. But how many of us actually set out to create and beat our own aims and objectives mentally? In my normal working day I often think about how much rehearsal time I want to achieve or perhaps I might want to ensure that I have got to grips with a set piece of music and as I break it down I set myself the challenge of making sure that I do not leave the studio until I have mastered a particular section. I find this is good practice but as I reflect on the due processes that I put into action I guess I am constantly trying to create and maintain a sense of achievement.

The best bit is when I finally get it right I reward myself with a cup of coffee and a piece of shortbread!

For my next performance there is technically no need for rehearsal but there is still a challenge. I will be improvising with the wonderfully talented Zeena Parkins at the Skirball Centre, NewYork as part of the Joshua Light Show. Improvisation can be just as nerve racking as a concerto and my excitement is already mounting as I think about meeting Zeena for the first time and working out how we can improvise together!

I genuinely want to know what your PBs are, however great or small, I know when you achieve something it will make you feel good and that has to be a good thing. Good luck and please join me on my Facebook where I will try and respond to as many of you as possible.

Image: William Warby (licence: CC BY 2.0)

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