Friday, March 25, 2011

Patience Through Transition

This past week was an interesting one for me. I'm going through many transitions, like so many people in the world right now. My music lessons are great for noticing metaphors, especially about transition. I honestly did not feel like "teaching" this week. I did not have the energy to think of something witty to say or something inventive to teach. Honestly, there were some moments when I just wanted to leave the room and cry. But when you are dealing with kids, it is so important to stay strong and composed and "in the moment." It is always about the kids. Always.

I just wanted to play music. So I did. Every single lesson basically became a jam session. A band practice, if you will. The kids like it. I was surprised, because, my intentions were really quite selfish. I swear, after every session, each student complained that it went by too fast. That made me happy. They seemed to really enjoy the "band practice" style of it all. One student, last night, got to take over some of her Dad's time slot because he had a meeting at work, so our session really was like a band practice. About 2 hours long, complete with a tea break in the middle! She had fun, and honestly, so did I. We talked about making a music video next week. That's what bands do.....

In music, one of the challenges is transitioning from one section to another. A student may individually master sections A and sections B of a song, but when it comes time to put the whole song together, frustration always reins. I understand this irritation. Like life, music is never easy. It is always challenging, and as soon as you think you are a master, it is time to re-evaluate how much you really think you know. Music will humble you.

Musical practice is very similar to meditation. It requires an intense amount of focus in order to really get it right. If your mind is somewhere else in that moment when you are transitioning from part A to part B, even if the audience thinks it sounds great, being aware and focused would have guaranteed a more perfect performance. So is life...

As I go through these big changes, trying to get settled into a new place (which I hate doing), I'm trying to just stay focused and aware. Music and meditation have brought me to a place where I can handle the stress of transitions. It is far from enjoyable, but then again, neither is forcing myself to plough through a difficult piano piece after making the same mistake 20 times. The truth is, if I just keep doing it, and maintain a calm awareness all (or just most) of the time, success is ALWAYS the result. Always.

In my daily jam sessions with the kids this week, I was reminded why I chose music as a career. Music is fun. Sometimes, teachers and other adults try to take the fun away and just turn it into work. I'm guilty of this, too. I was telling a mom the other day that sometimes I hear my classical teachers in the back of my head scolding me for not having better sight-readers as students. It's true that I attract a lot of students who have a very difficult time reading music. Most of my kids are artsy, right-brain learning types... terrible at Math, excellent at English.... Maybe because I always had a hard time with Math and Sight-Reading? I was always much better at improv and songwriting. The truth is that so many professional musicians don't know how to read music, and even though I agree it is an important skill to know, most of my students are amazing MUSICIANS, regardless of their reading skills. This is where I have to tell myself to be flexible and patient.

Changes and challenges are inevitable in life and also in musical practice. We cannot avoid pain and we cannot avoid tranisitions. But just like a great performance, we can handle the stress of it all with grace and calm focus. I have my moments where I snap at my dogs for walking too slow, and I have moments when I feel like I will be stuck in the sadness forever, but then I quickly remind myself that life is all about transition. Just like music. It never stays the same. There are times when I think, I am the worst musician ever. Who am I kidding? I think the trick is that you always have to be focused on the present moment, observing and breathing, learning from it and moving on to the next moment. Everything changes. Even the exciting moments. They all go away eventually. Why not just deal with it gracefully? I'm trying. I promise I am. 

Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.7


  1. Beautiful post. Moving and strong and honest. Love you.

  2. Thank you, Marika. That means a lot to me coming from you. :)