Calling from the Prius, Episode 35. Listen: Tent Teaching Is Fine.
Folks, the last essay was sad. I know that. But you know... life goes on, and kids still have their lives ahead, and so how fortunate are we whose job is aimed specifically at making those lives more full. Teaching kids is about preparing them to have a full life of their own someday, and that's why I'm teaching music: Because music makes life more full. I've written it a thousand times in my notes and scribbles, my personal quotable "Ooh, good one, Sue; gotta use that someday" lists that live on paper napkins, backs of envelopes and receipts, and in the Notes function of my iPhone. I'll say it again because I like to repeat myself, much to the longterm disdain of those with whom I cohabitate: Music makes life more full. It most certainly has for me, and every day. And so I'll just keep on saying it. Worse things could grate on a person, no?
Episode 35 of Calling from the Prius in its own way explores the gift of music. Often as a musician, I have felt self-conscious on stage, afraid of messing up, self-critical in ways that interrupt flow and make it impossible to play freely. Like, all the time, actually. On stage, as a musician, I'm always doing The Work. The notes come out fast and furious and mostly correct, but meanwhile a raft of unrelated thoughts remain captive inside, spinning like frozen berries in a blender. About half of them are "Am I any good at this?" The Work is to set aside the hard little berries to focus instead on how that smoothie will taste and feel. The Work is a release of ego, it is an embrace of trust and faith; it points toward flow state, where we can freely create. Our minds release to inspiration, and the music plays us. It is the real; flow is the thinking musician's chalice, our grail.
It came to my mind one day on stage while playing and simultaneously doing The Work: Focus on the audience. Think about them. Think about the gift you are giving them, the thing inside the box—not about whether it is wrapped up in a perfect bow with tight creased folds and perfectly symmetrical diagonals on the ends. It's not about the translucent cello tape. It's about the gift. It's about what you are giving.
That changed everything. It opened up the flow. Teaching is like that too. And so here's a day in the life, the first hour of a day that was focused on the gift: The love.
Video is here if the embed doesn't show for you: https://youtu.be/IxcZMXWYBm8