Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Amateur and the Pros

This is a post inspired by our Man of Leisure here.

If you've heard a amateur and a pro playing from the same music score, you'll find that there's a difference. Sure, the amateur can hit every note, even on time, but there's a certain degree of interpretation which defines the amateur from the pros. I don't profess that I'm a good musician (I'm not, I don't even play the piano nor how to read scores), but you'll find that you can play around with 3 things:

1. Notes (C, D, F# etc)

2. Volume (how hard you press the key)

3. Time (fast, slow, timing between notes)

Take some time and listen to the two youtube clips below and listen for yourself. One is from Synthesia and the other is from a pianist, Mira Lee, that I discovered on youtube like a day ago.

Synthesia music: Technically sound, but musically emotionless

                                   By Miri Lee: Can you feel that the music is different?

In learning any instrument, you first learn to play the score according to the beats. You don't miss a beat, you just follow exactly as read from the score. Once you know how to play a song mechanically after playing many many times, you earn the right to 'feel' the music. You play certain groups of notes faster (to build momentum) or you play certain notes louder (to build intensity), or certain notes softer and slower (to build suspense). A pro is someone who interprets these nuances and tweaks an otherwise mechanical score into something that has 'feelings'. An amateur? He just plays the notes according to the score, each note with the same volume with each abberation needing to be corrected.

I don't think anyone compared trading with playing music. Well, now you do. Trading is not much different. You have price, volume and time. Amateur might just use the same indicator mechanically. If it's a little different from the perfect signal, you don't trade. You haven't earn the right to have 'feelings' yet. But once you're a pro, you notice the nuances in the volume or the velocity of the price movement. Sometimes, you feel the market. It's hard to describe to someone how come you know certain things might happen (even if you do try to explain, you don't really think of it rationally like that at that moment of recognition). 

Can we apply the same concept to public speaking? Let's see:

1. Words and pitch

2. Volume

3. Time

Every one can read a script, but not everyone can speak like a radio DJ, even if the script is written by one. You just can't pull it off like that. If you listen to the pros speaking, you'll realise that they speak with certain stress on different words of a sentence. They vary their voice too, sometimes louder, sometimes softer. They can also speak faster or slower to create certain effects. What do an amateur do? They just read off a script.

An amateur is so focused on the magic indicator to use on a chart, where to get the score of the song they want to play and the professionally prepared script for the speech they are giving, while the pros are busy playing, feeling and trying out things. Worlds separate them apart.

Is there such a thing as an amateur or a pro on the road to financial freedom? I'm not talking about those who had already reached their goals, but talking about those still on their way. Maybe there is. Just listen to the music from the same musical score that we all play on our piano ;)


Singapore Man of Leisure said...


3 years ago, I asked you on your interesting use of spaces between texts ;)

I started applying at my posts mechanically at first.

Now it comes out naturally without much thinking. Even at the comments :)

I like your choice of song.

It applies to all learning. We cling on to "book" in the beginning.

Once we have assimilated the knowledge within us, we can let go of the "book"...

la papillion said...


Haha, I remembered you asking me about spaces :) It's been 3 yrs? wow