Well, it is a fabulous experience to once again be a beginner.
I am fortunate that since I am a Pipe Organist, playing on a pedal-board with my feet is not unusual. However, to play with my fists instead of my finger tips is a new experience.
What is a surprise, however, is how many things I do which so drive me to distraction when my own students do them!
I play much faster than necessary (to show off to my teacher)
As soon as my teacher says “Good,” I stumble and make a mistake
I attempt to do more than my skills allow
After writing this blog for several years, in an effort to communicate simple truths about practice and preparation, I am humbled to realise that as a beginner, I am falling into such similar patterns as my students.
AND I SHOULD KNOW BETTER!
I KNOW that 15 minutes’ practice daily is more useful than 1 hour’s practice the day before the lesson, and yet that is exactly what I do. (In my defence, though, may I point out that my instrument only exists in one place in Sydney, so there is a travel requirement!)
It is helpful to go through this experience on my journey, as it helps me to understand life from the stool, and hopefully will once again give me more patience when students exhibit any of these tendencies.
Well, I did promise to report back on my experience as a beginner. I have now had two carillon lessons, and it has been fascinating to see how I fall into all the habits that drive me to distraction in my own students!
I play everything better alone; when the teacher is listening, mistakes happen. (Even worse, if I’m playing well and my teacher says, “Good,” then I immediately stumble!)
I play much faster than necessary. I know that the chances of success are much higher if one starts slowly, but I want to show off for my teacher, and I want to sound good.
I try pieces all hands and feet together, when I know that my chances of success are greatly improved if I learn things hands/feet separately first and then slowly add a component.
I know that practising 15 minutes a day is preferable to doing 1 hour’s practice the day before the lesson, and yet this is what I do (although in my defence, I have to make a journey to the carillon, so it is more difficult that picking up an instrument at home).
Already, this experience is giving me more insight into my students, and hopefully it will increase my patience when students exhibit any of the above tendencies!
Me at the Sydney University practice Carillon…. am I the only one who thinks that it looks a little like a medieval instrument of torture?!
Well, it’s almost that time again – the end of term is only days away and the combined delight and exhaustion of teachers and students alike is almost palpable.
Last school holidays saw me head off to Montreal International Jazz Festival, then Cuba for some conga lessons and Ritmo Mozambique, followed by heaps of culture in New York City, ending with the Katy Perry concert at Madison Square Garden.
The trip was so inspiring for me. To hear music at such an elite level gave me so much joy and reminded me of what is possible with music.
These holidays, however, are almost completely devoid of music. A few days up the coast with the children, an afternoon at a city spa, and catching up with friends are on the agenda.
The only musical adventure will be my first proper carillon lesson on Sydney University’s Carillon.
I continue to love developing my craft as well as exploring new ways to express music, so I’m sure that this will inspire me and hopefully in turn I will be able to inspire my students. I’m sure it will also be helpful to be reminded of how it feels to be a beginner again.
I look forward to reporting back, but in the meantime, Happy Holidays!