Practice the Right Stuff Right (Issue 984)

In which we are reminded that, while practice is good, practicing the right stuff correctly is even better.

I sang. Yes, you read that right. I earned money in my college years by singing, with partners, in bars and ski lodges in Vermont – one night a week in a ski lodge during ski season and three nights a week from October to May in a Holiday Inn bar. Our shows typically ran to 50 or 60 songs, a mix of folk, light rock, and, with one partner, Great American Songbook standards. We’d start rehearsing in early September, start performing in early October, and continue rehearsing once a week in addition to the 3 – 4 gigs per week.

There was no internet in those days. In other words, there was no way that a part-time musician could turn to his phone or iPad and type in “lyrics” and a song name and, in milliseconds, receive a link to the lyrics. And, since sheet music was, for us part-time musicians, expensive, we did everything by ear. We learned song chords by ear. We listened and transcribed the lyrics to songs by ear.

So, one October night, we were working away in the Holiday Inn bar. My partner’s girlfriend, Pam, was in town from North Dakota, sitting at the front table, nursing a White Russian, very excited to see the show. My partner and I particularly liked and had been rehearsing the Stephen Stills song, “Love the One You’re With”. In honor (a little twisted, given the words to the song, but it was my partner’s choice) of his girlfriend’s visit, he asked that we close that evening’s show with the song.

So, we enthusiastically performed the song, the Holiday Inn audience cheered, his girlfriend smiled appreciatively (I’m guessing, I just made that up), and he and I sat down at the front table with his squeeze to chat for a bit before last call.

A few minutes passed and he left to hit the men’s room. His girlfriend leaned over to me and, in a whisper, asked, “What does ‘Well, there’s a road where the fish did run’ mean?”

“Those are the words to the chorus,” I replied. I had transcribed the words, myself, and we’d been practicing it that way for three weeks.

She leaned in a little closer…very close… and whispered, “Has nobody told you this? The words are, ‘Well, there’s a rose in a fisted glove’”.

She sat back and looked away to let me mull that over for a few minutes.


Yes…it’s good to practice as we prepare for sales calls and presentations. It’s even better to make sure we’re correctly practicing the right stuff and asking knowledgeable people for feedback to ensure that we’re on track.

Nick Miller and Clarity train banks and bankers to attract and develop deeper relationships with small businesses. Many more Sales Thoughts like this and a host of other articles and resources at .

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