There’s no way to teach you

April 18, 2020

I want to know what keeps you up at night.

I want to know what struggles you have as a musician.

It doesn’t matter what kind of music you do. What instrument you play. It’s all the same, anyway.

You’re a human being, and you struggle with something.

You aren’t totally happy. Right?

If you don’t agree with me, let me know. Seriously.

Yeah, I might get frustrated. I might make fun of you, even. But look, that’s my problem.

I really want to know what you are struggling with. Life isn’t perfect. You don’t need to pretend that it is. You don’t need to pretend that music is tons of fun at all times. We both know it isn’t.

I want to help you with whatever you’re struggling with. I think I can. But, I need to know how you talk about it.

I have my own ways of talking about things. What I say might not make sense to you. I’m weird. The chances are low that we speak the same language.

You don’t have to describe it perfectly. Just give the gist of it. I will try to figure it out from there.

The things that I teach are based on mindfulness and meditation. That kind of thing is experiential, not verbal. Meaning, you learn by doing, not by talking.

So, I want to give you some exercises to do. Hopefully, those exercises will teach you, by giving you experiences that will guide you through dealing with your struggles.

I wish I could just put it into words and explain it to you. I don’t know how to do that, however. The only thing I can do is give you an exercise.

But, I need to know what your problem is. Otherwise, I won’t know which exercise to give you.

Not enough music teachers assign real exercises. So, this might be a weird concept for you. You might want me to explain things, and make sure you understand.

I know it’s uncomfortable when you don’t understand something. I wish I could convey it in a way that’s understandable. But, I’ve tried, and it hasn’t been very successful.

Believe me, I’ve written many, many explanations. They are impossible to understand, however, without the experiences needed to go along with them. The explanations are what describe the experiences.

When you’ve had the experience, the explanation will make sense. Before you’ve had the experience, on the other hand, you will misinterpret the explanation.

If you could really understand the explanation, you probably wouldn’t need the exercise.

If you haven’t seen the movie The Karate Kid (the original one, from the 80’s), I highly recommend you fix that as soon as possible.

This movie has probably 20 scenes that are super-relevant to kinds of things that I teach.

The most famous scene is the “wax on/wax off” scene, which I’m guessing is the only scene most of you remember. In that scene, Mr. Miyagi teaches Daniel karate by giving experiential exercises. These exercises make no sense. They seem totally unrelated to karate.

But they worked. Even though Daniel seemingly tried really hard to prevent them from working.

I’m not going to explain the whole film. You need to watch it. Then, we can talk about it some more.

You will learn by doing. Even if you don’t want to learn. The learning happens automatically. You have to do absolutely nothing for it happen.

Your brain is constantly learning, based on whatever is happening to you. You don’t need to take responsibility for this process.

It just happens.

So, if you want to train yourself to be able to do a certain thing, you need only put yourself in a situation where the right kind of learning will happen automatically.

You don’t need to take responsibility for this process.

Find the right exercise, and just do it. If it’s the right exercise, you will learn. Automatically.

No responsibility necessary.

You can try all you want. Doesn’t matter. If you’re in the right environment, you will learn, automatically.

If you’re in the wrong environment, you will learn the wrong thing.

So, you need only take responsibility for putting yourself into the right environment. Once you’re in that environment, you’re done. Let the exercise do its job.

You’re finished at that point.

Totally free. Just sit back and watch what happens.

This is how a teacher can help you. The teacher can give you those exercises. And, make sure you do them.

You don’t need to understand. You don’t need to like the teacher. Those things are helpful to the extent that they make you more willing to do the exercises.

But, if you can find a way to do the exercises without understanding, without liking the teacher, without feeling confident, without without without…

…you will be better off.

Everything will be easier. Just let go and let it happen.

Let the exercise teach you. The teacher teach you.

It’s OK to be a bad student. Doesn’t matter. No one is giving you a report card at the end of your life. There are no letter grades.

Are you getting what you want? Are you becoming the musician you want to become? Look at what you’re learning. Look at the environment you are in.

That environment is training you, whether you like it or not.

It’s shaping who you are becoming.

If you’re in the right environment, you will become the right kind of musician.

There’s nothing else shaping you.

About the author

I'm your worst nightmare. I will violate your expectations. Yes, you will feel violated. Fortunately, I'm a good guy.

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