Do you remember why you signed up for music lessons to begin with? Was it to feel cool? Free? To express what was deep inside of you? I have noticed a deeply ingrained “bait and switch” that happens in traditional music lessons and I want to make sure to point it out to as many music students as I can because what is at stake is too precious to lose.
Imagine you get this great inspiration to learn an instrument or to sing. You saw a concert or an amazing song popped up on your streaming device that made you remember you have always loved music and wanted to learn more. Then you take the plunge and buy an instrument and sign up for lessons! Exhilarating!
You get a few weeks into lessons and realize this is a little harder than you imagined, but you are resolute. Determined (most of the time) to do exactly as your teacher prescribes, you go home and practice every day really hard only to go to your lesson and have your teacher move the proverbial cheese and say now it’s this other thing we need to work on. They may not even acknowledge the progress we have made from our previous efforts. That is how many teachers, in my experience, perceive their job. Singularly find places where we could improve and teach us the techniques to practice, ongoing. That is probably how they were taught; to be perfectionists. The problem is that we find we have unwittingly signed up for a hotdog eating contest where the prize is MORE HOTDOGS. We work really hard and practice so that we can…practice some more.
Where did the music go in all of this? I believe we should learn in an atmosphere where music is alive throughout the learning process, enriching our lives and enticing us along our path. I believe in inspiration, rather than an unrelenting dedication to perfection, which (spoiler alert!) we can never reach.
I encourage you to stay in tune with the reasons you signed up for lessons in the first place. Hold that inspiration sacred and know that is a clear path to the essence and emotions your soul desires to experience and express. When it becomes a burden and creates bad feelings, the process has become polluted with perfectionism. Be patient. Rather than practicing harder, ask yourself how you might make your experience of music freer, more fun, more interesting, etc… Reclaim that inspiration and Go!