Friday, May 18, 2012

Lessons from Guy LaFleur

As a child growing up in Canada in the '70s, I regarded hockey players, Guy LaFleur and Ken Dryden as heroes.  When playing street hockey in front of my house, I always pretended to be either one or the other, depending on whether I was in or out of the net.

A couple of years ago I read Ken Dryden's book, "the Game", and reveled in his insights, observations and tales about the individuals who comprised the Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens of the 1970s.  For me, the most extraordinary, memorable story concerned Guy LaFleur's practice habits.  After completing all the mandatory team drills, LaFleur would always stay on the ice and "play", in the truest sense of the word.  He might move the puck down the ice with his feet only, do twirls and spins, flick the puck around in peculiar ways with his stick, etc.  He was always the last person off the ice.  The structured workout with his teammates may have kept him fit and disciplined, but what set him apart from other players could be attributed to his regular "playtime".

Since reading this, I have tried to model my own piano practicing after LaFleur's example.  Like Guy, I maintain structure at the beginning, but always follow it with unstructured experimentation (play!), where I "mess around", and try things.

After completing my Giant Steps exercises today, I put on some Jamie Aebersold play-a-long tracks where I not only tried to apply what I had practiced, but experimented and just fooled around. 

Cheers, Guy!
#10 - Guy LaFleur (my childhood hockey hero)

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