Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time there was a Tortoise and a Hare. No, not the ones in the nursery rhyme, but relatives of theirs. Now, a wolf (from the piggy story, not Riding Hood) challenged the Tortoise and the Hare to a race, and the prize? The winner wouldn't be eaten. And this race was to take place in six months in the midst of Spring, allowing fair time for all to prepare.

Since the stakes were high, each of the participants considered seeking advise from others in their family who had been in similar situations.

Wolf sought advice from his cousin Fox who warned him about rabbits hiding in briar patches, and about tar babies; and Cousin Coyote who had a tendency to ramble on about Roadrunners and their dirty tricks.

Tortoise sought council from his Grandfather who once had to race against a hare, and won. Grandpa Tortoise cautioned young Tortoise to exercise the cunningous of a Coyote, the Cleverness of a Fox, the determination of a Wolf, and the speed of a Jack Rabbit.

Hare, confident and cocky, considered asking his Grandfather who had been in a similar race with a turtle, but decided that it wasn't necessary since he was so fast and smart anyway. Besides, hadn't his grandfather lost that race?

So Hare decided that the Philosophical approach would be the best for him. He pulled out his Lazy Boy recliner, surrounded himself with rich food and sodas, and watched the rains and cold winds of Fall and Winter pass by the window of his burrow.

Then, with a thick chocolate shake in one hand, he prepared to read the many books stacked beside his chair. He tossed aside; Exercise To Grow Fit; and Speed - Your Key To Avoid Becoming Rabbit Stew. Then, he settled down to study the books he had chosen; Self-Satisfaction, Your Door To Happiness And Success; and THINK Your Way To Becoming A Winner.

Meanwhile, back on the route chosen for the race, Tortoise spent his mornings examining the road. He watched the way birds and snakes skittered away into the underbrush and into holes when danger approached. He examined, and tried every hollow log, craggy stump and rock pile for potential hiding places. In the afternoons he ran as far and as fast as he could, building up his stamina. Then in the evenings he did pushups and stretches. He tried doing setups and back-bends, but found his shell a little restricting.

The day of the race arrived. Tortoise, lean and mean, lumbered up to the starting line. Then Hare, now three times the size he had been, waddled up to the line, with a big sack lunch under one arm, and a Theory book under the other.

Wolf, to be fair, sat on a log to give his opponents and prospective "dinner guests" time to get a good head start.

Guess who Wolf took to dinner that evening?

[The above story is an excerpt from The Abstract musician, which was originally intended to demonstrate the importance of practice.]

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