It made me laugh, both from the perspective of a teacher and from the perspective of being a one-time (and ever-more) student. The article describes how the violin student "John Man" has been struggling for years to overcome his limitations as a musician. He kept playing the way he wanted, over and over again, but he never seemed to make any progress.
"Finally, out of sheer desperation, Man started doing what his teacher had been telling him to do in every lesson for the past five years. 'The results have been incredible!'"
But why does this article strike our funny bone? It seems to tap into a fairly universal truth: We like what feels comfortable, and we resist good advice that makes us change our habits.
Today I was encouraging a student to play nearer the frog, more often. She explained to me why she tends not to do so: "My arm just seems to go to this place that's in the middle of the bow."
"That's because that's the comfy part of the bow," I said. "You need to visit the un-comfy part of the bow. If you keep visiting the uncomfy part of the bow, every day always, then it will also become comfy. You have to make the uncomfy place comfy by going there a LOT and getting used to it."
But who really enjoys getting out of his or her comfort zone, acknowledging weakness and putting effort into the things he or she doesn't yet do well? It's likely that the advice your teacher gives you is exactly the advice that is the most difficult to take. It is often prescriptive, or corrective. It doesn't fit into an easy groove.
Incorporating your teacher's advice isn't about just traveling down the familiar path again and again. It's about zeroing in on the most challenging aspects of your technique, making a change, and making it part of you. It's about going widening your comfort zone. It's work! But if you do that work, you may just have an "Amazing Breakthrough"!Tweet
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