Musician Stops Practising Because Of Einstein Quote

John Man, young musician and avid internet user, recently read a famous quote by Einstein: “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” After reading it he realised that almost everything he did as musician, like practising and rehearsing for example, could easily fall under the definition of insanity, so he decided to stop.

“First to go was my morning warm up,” he said. “I used to do a little set of scales and arpeggios every day, to train my muscles and improve my technique. Little did I know, that was insane! Now I just hit my instrument randomly until I’m tired. Not insane.”

Man’s new policy has proved rather unpopular with his colleagues and employers. Sally McNally, a local agent and promoter, was very disappointed with Man’s performance in one of her lunchtime concerts. “He didn’t seem to know any of the music, to be honest,” she said. “I wanted to enjoy it but it was a bit painful listening to him struggle through it.”

“Of course I didn’t know the music,” said Man. “If I had practised anything, that would have been insane. All I could do to prepare was to play it through once. Not insane.”

Bob Guy, one of Man’s close friends, was concerned that this new approach was ruining Man’s career. After doing a little research, Guy was pleased to find that Einstein never actually said the quote at all. “Without the veneer of a smart name, it’s much easier to see that the quote doesn’t really make sense,” he said. “Where does it leave qualities like dedication and perseverance? Or even things like brushing your teeth every morning? I really wish Man would start doing that again…”

We spoke to a mental health professional who was qualified to speak about insanity due to a lifetime of study and experience on the subject. “The definition of insanity is when a person has a mental illness of such strength that they cannot distinguish fantasy from reality,” they said. “For example, reading things on the internet and just believing them no matter what– that would probably qualify.”

Man was unmoved. “Well, even if Einstein didn’t say it and it isn’t true and it doesn’t make sense, you have to admit, it does sort of sound true. Isn’t that enough?”

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2 Responses

  1. megamezzo says:

    Well, I’m certainly going to follow Bob Guy’s advice on teeth….. that sounds really phantastic.

  2. r naz says:

    Hadn’t heard this attributed to Einstein, who seems an unlikely source. I would say to the musician that if you’ve been practicing for years and years and your “result” is that you are no better than when you started, that sounds a bit insane. The desired result in the music case is improvement or, if the musician is happy with their level of performance, maintenance. The desired result in toothbrushing in good breath, clean teeth, etc. if you’ve been brushing for years and not getting a good dental result maybe it’s time to consider adding flossing. Of course there now seems to be some debate about its effectiveness as well.

    A reasonable person examining this phrase might be expected to infer the preamble “if you’re dissatisfied with your situation, you should take a look at the things you’ve been doing over and over again that got you or keep you here.”

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