Put this article down

April 22, 2020

Don’t make me come after you.

You can’t just sit and read about things.

You have to actually do them.

That’s the only way you will learn. By doing.

Stop trying to take so much responsibility for the process. You were taught to do that in school, but it’s wrong.

You will learn whether you like it or not. As long as you’re in the right environment.

You don’t believe me?

How did you learn to walk? Talk? Recognize your friends’ faces? Say your name? Pick out your favorite foods at the grocery store? Text? Open a door? Watch TV? Sweep the floor? Take out the trash? Fill up a glass of water? Pick up a glass of water?

Come on, it’s not that complicated.

You know full well that you didn’t learn those skills by carefully controlling everything you did according to some rigid rubric around right vs. wrong.

You learned them because you were in an environment where you just had to learn them. You had no teacher. The environment itself was your teacher. You were not the student. Your body-mind was the student.

You didn’t have to take notes, study for an exam, or follow instructions.

Instead, you stumbled around until you figured it out. And you made plenty of mistakes along the way. However, you don’t remember those mistakes, because you didn’t feel any shame when they happened.

But when it comes to music, the game is different.

Teachers don’t trust that students are able to learn, and students don’t trust themselves.

Students are more concerned about evaluation of self:

Am I going to pass or fail?

How am I doing compared to my peers?

Am I going to embarrass myself?

I’m not good at this.

Teachers are more concerned about evaluation of self:

Am I a good teacher?

How am I doing compared to my peers?

My students’ performance is a reflection of me.

Why don’t my students respect me?

Blah blah blah.

Right now, you’re either nodding in agreement, or shaking with anger.

Whatever.

That’s not learning. That’s just staying exactly right where you are.

Put this article down and go practice something. Let it teach you whatever it has to teach you.

Know that afterwards, you will be somewhere else.

About the author

Michael Korman has played the piano in opera productions and recitals, as well as directing music at a church and coaching classical singers. He draws upon his experiences with meditation and mindfulness to inform his views on music. In addition to music, Michael also holds degrees in computer science. When he's not playing the piano or meditating, he might be practicing drawing or calligraphy.

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