Engaging Your Mind

Yesterday, I was working on learning the melody to the song Cheryl by Charlie Parker. After figuring out the notes, I broke out the metronome and started to try to get the timing accurate and to get the tempo up to speed.

As I played the melody over and over to practice it, I observed that I would trip over certain passages every time. Then, I would observe myself thinking “That’s okay- maybe I’ll play it right next time.” All of a sudden it hit me: I treat learning music in a passive way, similar to how I would watch TV or something. Similar to how I used to pay attention in public school: with my brain engaged as little as possible in order to squeak by, knowing that I would be rewarded for the minimum effort I put forth.

I stopped immediately, and changed my thought to “What do I need to do to fix this problem right now?” and my brain scrambled up off of its virtual sofa, and I quickly found a solution- one which required me to actually think about the passage differently. Certainly I have used this type of thinking before, but only sporadically when absolutely necessary. I’d like to change my learning process so that my mind is fully engaged as much as possible.

Maybe traditional classroom learning is not the best thing for every kid! Maybe TV shows like Sesame Street actually send children down a lifelong path of passive learning, causing the older generations to wonder what’s wrong with kids these days.

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