Saturday, September 08, 2007

Taming the Will

Recently finding my old trumpet lesson assignment books from grade school, I noticed a painful pattern. My teacher had to write down the same things week after week. Despite my cocky attitude there was much evidence of repeated stupidity! I proudly insisted on playing the way I wanted without fully submitting to the very instruction that would have helped me. I did appear to be listening, but figured I could do it my own way. Every bit of advice received had to find its way through my filter of pride and independence.

There it was week after week: "Mirror work! Fix your corners. Try to relax on the upper notes. Remember to breathe enough, and, easy on the lips! The air must come through them or we won't have a sound!" One note in all caps said "Think about what we talked about in the lesson! (dummy) Higher notes should be free and not stuffed." How patient my teacher was! Actually a good spanking might have jolted me out of my fog and been the best lesson I ever had!

All students have talent. It is the "untalented" part that must be broken, like a wild horse, and systematically trained. Unbridled talent has a short ride, and soon must yield to the more disciplined competitors. Remember the impatient jack rabbit who eventually lost to the persistent tortoise?

Another teacher drew a diagram for me. "Maybe he'll get it", he thought."GREAT PLAYING = BLOW + BRAINS". You have pretty good "BLOW" he said, in so many words, but you'll get a lot farther if you use both. I got the message: work on the BRAINS part! And that's the problem. Actually it's not a brain problem, but a will problem. Proverbs warns that it is a wise son who receives instruction, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

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