TT1947 – Learning to Learn Again

When faced with a challenge, some folks lark about
Thinking it’s funny. I used to do that sometimes.
But as I get older, I find that those that behave like this
Are oft lacking some training, skill or knowledge.
Perhaps even covering up some learning difficulty …
Because they have not applied themselves to MASTERY.

I was reminded by this last week by my flute teacher
His name is James and he has a first-class degree in Music.
He’s versatile enough to play in both a symphony orchestra
As well as in a jazz or blues band. Read music and improv –
After years of what he calls “shedding” it (which means
 Long, tedious practice in the garden shed!)

James has helped me to re-learn the Art of Mastery.
I’m not sure if you ever took music lessons at school
My first piano teacher was very solemn and stunk of perfume
She didn’t like my casual attitude to learning.
I hardly ever practised one week to the next
And she became more and more frustrated by me!

She taught me FACE and “Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit”
(As well as others I can’t remember for the Bass Clef).
These have been useful with the flute because
All the notes you play is in the Treble Clef.
Since then, I have not read music. I’ve just “larked around”
But if you want to play with others, you need to read music.

What does it take to become a Master in a given field?
Malcolm Gladwell said in his book Outliers that
It requires 10,000 hours of practice.
That’s catchy and easy to remember but completely false!
It’s not the number of hours that are important.
It’s about the quality of time spent practising & rehearsing.

James tells me there are two types of students.
Those who want to learn to read and play in an orchestra
And those who just want to play by ear.
I used to be the latter, but am now re-learning the fun
Of reading music for the first time.
It’s a slog, but getting easier as each week goes by.

James wasn’t born when I started to learn to play the piano
But I still remember my first teacher’s perfume. Yuk!
James is many years younger and wiser than me,
He has taught me how to learn (again)
And he has three words he uses to describe the Art:
DISCIPLINE, FOCUS and PRECISION.

Dedicated to James Penny – my awesome flute teacher who gives me lessons over Zoom every week (or so). Let him know I sent you!

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