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89db8a0d — Derek Sivers formatting 4 months ago
                                                                                
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<title>There’s no speed limit | Derek Sivers</title>
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<h1><a href="/" title="Derek Sivers">Derek Sivers</a></h1>
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<header>
<div class="blogparent">from the book “<a href="/n">Hell Yeah or No</a>”:</div>
<h1>There’s no speed limit</h1>
<small>2009-12-01</small>
  <audio src="https://m.sive.rs/sive.rs.kimo.mp3" preload="none" controls="controls"></audio>
</header>

<p>
	Whether you’re a student, a teacher, or a parent, I think you’ll appreciate this story of how one teacher can completely and permanently change someone’s life in only a few lessons.
</p><p>
	I was seventeen and about to start my first year at Berklee College of Music.
</p><p>
	I called a local recording studio with a random question about music typesetting.
</p><p>
	When the studio owner heard I was going to Berklee, he said, “I graduated from Berklee and taught there, too.
	I’ll bet I can teach you two years of theory and arranging in only a few lessons.
	I suspect you can graduate in two years if you understand there’s no speed limit.
	Come by my studio at 9:00 tomorrow for your first lesson, if you’re interested.
	No charge.”
</p><p>
	Graduate college in two years?
	Awesome!
	I liked his style.
	That was <a href="https://jkimowilliams.com/">Kimo Williams</a>.
</p><p>
	I showed up at his studio at 8:40 the next morning, super excited, though I waited outside before ringing his bell at 8:59.
</p><p>
	He opened the door.
	A tall man in a Hawaiian shirt and a big hat, with a square scar on his nose, a laid-back demeanor, and a huge smile, sizing me up, nodding.
</p><p>
	(Recently I heard him tell the story from his perspective.
	He said, “My doorbell rang at 8:59 one morning and I had no idea why.
	I run across kids all the time who say they want to be a great musician.
	I tell them I can help, and tell them to show up at my studio at 9:00 if they’re serious.
	Nobody ever does.
	It’s how I weed out the really serious ones from the kids who just talk.
	But there was Derek, ready to go.”)
</p><p>
	After a one-minute welcome, we were sitting at the piano, analyzing the sheet music for a jazz standard.
	He was quickly explaining the chords based on the diatonic scale — how the dissonance of the tri-tone in the 5-chord with the flat-7 is what makes it want to resolve to the 1.
	Within a minute, he started quizzing me.
</p><p>
	“If the 5-chord with the flat-7 has that tri-tone, then so does another flat-7 chord. Which one?”
</p><p>
	“Uh… the flat-2 chord?”
</p><p>
	“Right!
	So that’s a substitute chord.
	Any flat-7 chord can be substituted with the other flat-7 that shares the same tri-tone.
	So reharmonize all the chords you can in this chart.
	Go.”
</p><p>
<strong>
	The pace was intense, and I loved it.
</strong>
	Finally, someone was challenging me — keeping me in over my head — encouraging and expecting me to pull myself up quickly.
	I was learning so fast, it felt like the adrenaline rush you get while playing a video game.
	He tossed every fact at me and made me prove that I got it.
</p><p>
	In our three-hour lesson that morning, he taught me a full semester of Berklee’s harmony courses.
	In our next four lessons, he taught me the next four semesters of harmony and arranging classes.
</p><p>
	When I got to college and took my entrance exams, I tested out of those six semesters of requirements.
</p><p>
	Then, as Kimo suggested, I bought the course materials for other required classes and taught myself, doing the homework in my own time.
	Then I went to the department head and took the final exam, getting full credit for those courses.
</p><p>
	By doing this in addition to completing my full course load, I graduated college in two and a half years.
	I got my bachelor’s degree when I was twenty.
</p><p>
	Kimo’s high expectations set a new pace for me.
	He taught me that “<strong>the standard pace is for chumps</strong>” — that the system is designed so anyone can keep up.
<strong>
	If you’re more driven than most people, you can do way more than anyone expects.
</strong>
	And this principle applies to all of life, not just school.
</p><p>
	Before I met Kimo, I was just a kid who wanted to be a musician, doing it casually.
	Ever since our five lessons, I’ve had no speed limit.
	I owe every great thing that’s happened in my life to Kimo’s raised expectations.
	A random meeting and five music lessons showed me that I can do way more than the norm.
</p><p>
	Twenty years later, Berklee invited me to give the opening keynote speech to incoming first-year students.
	Go to <a href="/berklee">sive.rs/berklee</a> to see it.
	Kimo knows how much he means to me, and we’re friends to this day.
</p>
<img alt="" src="/images/kimohat.jpg">

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© 2009 <a href="https://sive.rs/">Derek Sivers</a>.
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