One of my Chinese teachers — the one who sold me my cell phone — said I was a good student.
“Why do you say that?” I asked.
She didn’t quite understand the question. “Number 1: You work hard. Number 2: You work hard. Number 3: You work hard,” she said.
She had never heard the joke about how to get to Carnegie Hall (“practice, practice, practice”). The joke is one of those convenient and reassuring lies. The real way to get to Carnegie Hall is 1. Ability to play well (based on practice, no doubt). 2. Charisma. 3. Money. See Judith Kogan’s brilliant Nothing But the Best: The Struggle For Perfection at the Julliard School for more about this. A few years ago I went to the Julliard bookstore and asked them about this book. They hadn’t heard of it!