“Build It and They Will Come”

I thought Field of Dreams was a really strange movie when I saw it.  I’m not sure I remember it correctly.  But the resonance of a piece of art is sometimes unrelated to your appreciation of it at the time.  The phrase “Build It and They Will Come” (applied in the movie to Kevin Costner’s seemingly bizarre and pointless creation of a baseball diamond in a corn field in the middle of nowhere) has come to occupy an indelible place in my day-to-day philosophy of life and art.

For example:  until I bought a drum set (for my rock band kids), I never thought to learn to play one. Having it sit in the room every day behind me as I taught guitar eventually advanced the concept to the front of my mind.  It only took about ten years!  I made it my New Year’s Resolution in 2016 to seriously practice the drums. It’s been so much fun that I really wonder why I didn’t think of this in my 20’s.

Another example:  teachers I bring on to teach at my school are often really cautious about adding studio time. I hear arguments that “no one would want lessons before 3 PM” or “no one would want lessons on a Sunday.”  There is often logic to arguments like this.  But the question is how much logic.  I’ve found that when you hang out your shingle for an odd block of time, sooner or later, if you are patient, students arrive who appreciate and want that time frame.  I teach 11 of my 54 weekly students during the school day.  Yes it is harder to find takers for those time frames but I would be a lot poorer if I didn’t persist in trying to find them.  I also teach until 10 PM several nights a week.

I can add to my examples.  I have learned to play the mandolin a bit because I bought one.  I mostly play it in the hallway between lessons.  Because it’s there, it’s gradually seeped into my consciousness.  Same for ukulele, bass and 7 string guitar.  Extending this concept further I recently bought an oud — a FRETLESS 11 string guitar.  Life has finally trained my instincts.  I’ve experienced enough “Build It and They Will Come” in the past to more purposefully think beyond the boundaries of my native sight, logic or imagination.



  • Kristi Szilak January 25, 2017 Reply

    Great article Charles! I can personally attest to the “Build it and They Will Come” in regards to adding studio time. When I was teaching years back I tentatively added a Sunday to my studio schedule. I was worried no one would want lessons that day. To my surprise my Sunday studio time was booked from 8:30am – 9:30pm within a month. Just my experience, but I believe taking risks is an important part of growth.

  • Buck January 26, 2017 Reply

    This is highly interesting, and may even inspire me in this, the 80th, year of my life.

  • planetbuchanan January 26, 2017 Reply

    The same philosophy can apply to having unhealthy snacks in your home when you are trying to practice mindful eating. If you buy them, you will consume.

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