The secret of Severance Hall

There are many people who have wondered about the one, overall secret to this marvelous concert hall.  For those who do not know, Severance Hall is the home of the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra.  It has been home to many performances of classical, pop, and choral nature.

It is also a celebrity of the silver screen, having been a location for movies like Air Force One (with Harrison Ford) and the Journey of Man  from Cirque du Soleil.  You may recognize some features of the exterior, or interior if you have been inside.  There is more information available online at the website for both the building and the orchestra.  (Check out the Wikipedia entry here.)

If you are wondering how to get there, there is the old joke: “practice.”  And that is the secret.  Sure, you can purchase tickets as one option, but if you want to perform inside, the best way to do so is to practice.

This happens to be the same secret of woodworking. Not just the realm of professional wood workers, but the secret to quick actions and tasks.  To get process times down to a quick speed, to be able to complete a task in five minutes, you need to practice.

You can practice tasks like cutting, sanding (and believe me, you will get plenty of practice during many projects), staining, or nailing.  And more.  But the only way to get better, to get faster, is to practice.  You can get practice via projects, or scrap materials.  Take a board you have no need for, and cut it into small pieces, say two inches long.  This will give you opportunity to practice measuring, cutting, cutting to a line, and making a smooth cut.  This is just the beginning, too.  Cut circles all day long in scrap pieces of plywood.  Turn spindles on your lathe until you are ankle deep in shavings, sweep them out, and start over.

You will have so many small projects completed, so many pieces you don’t know what to do with, that you will be staring at a variety of finished or partially finished projects instead of an open space.  You might even wonder what to do with all of them.  Here’s another free tip: use the better ones as templates for future projects.  This will also help with your speed, and your practice.

So remember this secret: a world-class orchestra has the same basis as a beginner wood worker.  And everybody who wishes to succeed.  So go ahead and get in some practice, at your earliest opportunity.


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