Do it well.
Do it with a good attitude.
Do it for a long time.
And you will become it.
Hazel and Nora started piano lessons a few months ago and it has been fascinating to see how they are each responding to the piano, the music, and a practice routine. I’m watching their skills develop little by little each week. Hazel is a good student in all things. She keeps up with her work and doesn’t like to disappoint those that are counting on her. She also loves music. She practices, has a good attitude, and likes what she’s learning, which all help to make her a really good piano student. Nora, on the other hand, is not enjoying piano. It’s parental/child mutual torture to get her to practice even a few times a week. When Wes is here, she does her best to get him to talk about anything other than piano. He patiently keeps her on task. He might be a saint.
The girls have different attitudes about these lessons, but both are progressing. Nora is almost through her first book of songs and Hazel has moved on to some sheet music. Even though Nora is learning stuff and is getting better, there’s a notable difference (pun intended) in how much the music seems to be a part of each of them. Hazel likes it, owns it, and is really proud of what she has accomplished. Even though Nora is spending time at the piano, her real energy is going into avoiding the task. When she’s playing she’s really practicing wearing us down. On days we are very persistent, she focuses on cranking out the minimal amount of practice with as little effort and the least amount of attention possible. (True confession: As much as it annoys me, I can totally relate. I wasn’t much of a piano student and employed many of these tactics myself. )
Watching the girls learn this new skill makes me wonder about two things:
- What is my attitude when I practice yoga? Which kind of practitioner am I? Am I practicing with attention? Am I operating with a good and open attitude? And am I connected to what I’m learning? Or am I going through the motions but actually practicing ‘avoiding what I’m really there to do’?
- Patañjali lays out the process of yoga and how we learn something new in Yoga sūtra 1.17 and it totally applies to piano lessons.
This sūtra says…
vitarka-when we first start piano, we have only a gross understanding of it
vicāra- as we practice, it becomes more subtle
ānanda- this process brings us joy
asmitā-rupa- eventually we know the piano so well that we become one with it. We don’t have to think about correct posture or “every good boy does fine.” It’s already there in our muscles and on the paper when we sit down.
anugamāt- It’s through this process over a long time that
saṁprajñātah – our understanding of the instrument and the music that it makes, becomes a part of us.
If we want to have more of something in our lives, then we need to spend time doing that thing. It’s not enough to merely go through the motions. We practice to have more of the kind of experiences we want and with an attitude that fosters a love of learning, ānanda. The experiences that help us to connect, earnestly and eagerly, to the things we want in our lives, are experiences that shape who we are and who we become.
Ojai Women’s RETREAT
REAL LIFE. REAL TOOLS.
AUGUST 31ST TO SEPT. 5TH, 2016
This 5-day retreat is specially designed to teach you the art of unlearning and letting go of old patterns that have long since lost their usefulness while also providing precious leisure time which allows these new skills and understandings to become more rooted in your daily life.
We teach Yoga, Ayurveda and the Alexander Technique in a practical and meaningful way so that when you return home you will have useful tools to keep this new, balanced relationship going—not only within yourself but with everyone around you.
Carol P. Prentice ~ Amanda Green ~ Sydney Laurel Harris
AGY readers receive a $200 discount on or before May 15th! Enter the code *RENEW2016* in your registration form under questions and comments. (*cannot be combined with any other discounts)