Being a world-class woodworker and a superstar musician have quite a bit in common – not that I’m either, just from my observations.
Why do some musicians – I’m thinking the Beatles and Bach – make it to the top, and have a permanence, and others don’t? Along the same lines, why do some woodworkers make it to the top – Maloof, Stickley and Krenov – and others don’t? What pattern are they following? I think I’ve identified some components:
• They are technically proficient. Great woodworkers and musicians have mastered the technical aspects of their profession, be that a piano or a dovetail.
• They are the pioneers. Who was the second man to step onto the moon? Name a famous Beatles tribute band. Exactly. The original – the person that does something really different – is the one that gets noticed, and usually, famous. Copying does nothing. I can copy a Krenov cabinet, but so what – thousands of other woodworkers can too.
• They have original ideas. The Beatles could play well, true – but so could other bands. Technically, they weren’t outstanding – none of the lads had formal instruction. Yet, they were outstanding. Why? Because of their songs. They wrote their own material and played it. Likewise, Maloof had his rocker, Stickley his simple designs and Krenov his cabinet. Notbody did like them (or as well as them) before they came along.
• They get noticed. Music is a performing art, so of course, they get noticed. They also have the benefit of easily being recorded and replayed for ever. We woodworkers have a harder time of it; we have to go to juried shows, or shows in which large scale buyers show up to get noticed (not including ads we take out, of course).
• They are passionate. They love what they do; they think about it just about all the time. They make time for it. Someone that isn’t usually passionate won’t excel in their field.
So there you have some reasons why some people excel in a field, while others flounder. Yes, you could get some guys together, and they can sound a lot like the Beatles; you can find a guy to make you a Krenov cabinet – but what’s hard to find is someone with the passion to excel, who can dream up new things, and be technically proficient enough to carry out their vision.