Dig Deeper – ‘A Story of Hard Work’ To Motivate your Band

In a world where delayed gratification is getting harder and harder to teach…

Band students learn that hard work pays off.
Band students learn that good enough is never good enough.
Band students learn that big work means big rewards.

As many of our bands prepare for their biggest performances of the year, we need to remind them (and ourselves) that that extra work is worth it! Share this story with your students. It tells of determination, giving more than others were willing to give, digging deeper and reaping the rewards.

                           The Story of the Cavanagh Brothers

The year was 1851 and two brothers stood by a bend in a creek that had wishfully been named by gold prospectors ‘Golden Point’ in days gone by.

The two brothers’ surname was Cavanagh and they’d been digging, along with around 600 other miners, in their ‘claim’ at Golden Point for days.

Some gold had definitely been found on this particular bend in the creek. In fact numerous miners had made good, although not spectacular, money from their finds in previous weeks.

Most of the gold had been found in the sandy ground to a depth of around 1 meter (3.2 feet) but at that point everyone who dug hit a hard layer of clay and received no reward for their effort. Digging through the sandy ground wasn’t hard but as soon as they hit clay it became back breaking work.

The result was that the area was littered with abandoned claims. Holes in the ground were everywhere, all dug to a depth of around 1 meter.

Miners around the Cavanagh brothers that day were beginning to talk of rumors coming from further up creek of richer pickings and in the 24 hours that followed most of the men had moved on.

But the brothers Cavanagh had a hunch.

They wanted to see what would happen if they dug deeper and so began the arduous task of digging into the hard clay that everyone else had stopped digging into.

They chose an abandoned claim from another miner and began to dig.
The work was hard and unrewarding.
They dug and found nothing but more clay.
Inch by inch they chipped away at the clay only to find more clay.
All day they dug.

The second morning they continued to dig as the last miners around them abandoned their claims and moved on to chase their dreams up creek.

I can just imagine the other miners abandoning their claims shaking their heads as they looked at the Cavanagh brothers and laughing at their foolhardy efforts.

But the brothers had a belief and kept their focus.

As sunset approached on the 2nd day, and after hours of back breaking work the brothers finally broke through the last of the clay at around the depth of 2 meters.

Under the clay they found what centuries ago been the old bed of the creek and in it were pockets of gold which had been washed down the creek from the mountains over hundreds of years.

The brothers worked into the night feverishly until the light from their lamps gave up. Imagine how they must have felt as they attempted to sleep that night!

The next day they rose early and assessed their work. In the light of day the full reality of what they’d uncovered started to sink in. There was gold down below that clay, and lots of it!

In a single day alone the Cavanagh brothers found 27 kilograms (60 pounds) of gold.

That day’s takings alone earned the men over £3,500 which was more than enough to set the two brothers up for life.

Word quickly spread of the brothers’ success.

One month later, 10,000 miners worked in the area around Golden Point and the wider Ballarat area and it became known as the richest known gold field in the world for that time.

You can bet that those who followed the brothers dug deeper than they had previously!

That’s what we do in band.
We learn our music to the point where our parents think it’s good enough.
But we keep digging.
We learn our music to the point where the judges think it’s good enough.
But we keep digging.
We learn our music to the point where we think it’s good enough.
But we keep digging.
Because good enough is never good enough. 
We strive for excellence. 
We strive to deliver a musical experience to our audience unlike any before.
We strive to strike gold.

For more motivational stories to tell your band, try these:
No Work, No Reward (the story of the Little Red Hen)
Reach Higher (a Tim Lautzenheiser activity)

Related Reading:
Practice Tips for the Modern Musician
Teaching Clarinets to “Roll to A” Isn’t Enough
Teaching with Poverty In Mind

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