The Truth about Learning

I find myself more and more addicted to learning. And also less dependant of what other people think of me. But also wanting to speak my truth publicly. That is a potent combination. Characters could be built or crushed by it.

My truth is not some “big truth”, not a political stand, not one strong opinion, mine is fluid, self-focused, maybe even selfish, but guilted into selflessness and finding great reward about making it about others.

Teaching and learning are the parts of the same toy. Rubik’s Cube. (I wrote that and immediately wanted to search for the manual on how to and fought the urge to order it on Amazon right away). I drink from a plentiful fountain of teaching. I enjoy and learn from it every day. New things that came from last year only enhanced the experiences: zoom, online group lessons, big webinars with endless technology gifts! Grateful to live in this time.

But it is also the quarantine that made me addicted to learning. Like any addiction, it could become a problem and a reason to procrastinate. But with the right cap on it, it makes life overwhelmingly full even in the confinement of your house.

This past year is a true optimist/pessimist test. And I can not see the glass half or more empty, it’s always almost full to me.

I always had it in me, I was a good student, quick learner, whatever you call ‘em.

But it’s my dog years that made me hungry for learning now. (Duolingo 84 day streak, but now a similar learning game on Java language is started. Day 5th. So, I’m learning Latin and Java. It’s actually rather representative)

I think it’s awesome that I can, and happy that I want to. Because you can only learn what you’re interested in. You just need to train yourself to get interested quickly in a lot of different things and act on them. Learning lasts for as long as interest lasts, and then you have it in your “luggage”. (Luggage sounds better, less burdening than baggage.)

Good teachers are the ones making it interesting. And all the interesting people are good teachers! Of something. You just need to want to learn.

About 15 years ago, I had a guest teacher do a flute masterclass at the studio. Studio then was a small place, that I had before our current address. The Lemonade Shack i refer to it.

I was the only teacher at the time, my class was smaller, but this guest teacher was legitimate! Great flutist, quick problem fixer, author of the book, awesome salesman. Admirable persona. We were about the same age, but I felt he was much more accomplished. The masterclass went great, it was exactly what my students needed He had some great flute samples with him, so we indulged in playing duets.

I enjoy playing duets, it’s my favorite thing to do on the flute. One of them. But that gentleman had a comment on my embouchure position.

I’ve been out of the school for 10 years by then, playing and teaching that whole time, gaining recognition on the teaching scene.

And he, being in his teaching mode ( i learned the term “clinician” from him), he couldn’t help but tell me about that. He did it so politely. 30 minutes prior I witnessed a very aggressive sale of a very expensive flute, but yet he was so vague and smooth right now, really walking around those imaginary rocks of my hurt self-esteem and sensitivity. Maneuvering between them, he brought forth his suggestion: “What if you try…” And i did.

And my whole flute life changed that moment. It was a slight difference that you wouldn’t be able to see just by looking at me. Most people wouldn’t even hear it. But I heard it immediately and so did he.

It was awkward.

We were colleagues. I’ve been teaching for 10 years Isn’t this almost disrespectful?

But the discovery of a better sound, the realization that some of the methods i’ have been taught in my Soviet childhood were outdated; that I never really bothered to study it beyond my university experience, being complacent and praised for what I already had.

I was moved and humbled and eager to learn all at the same time. But the shock was all his. He was shocked by my reaction. I guess he didn’t expect anything but snobby. I wonder if he remembers, i wonder if he’ll ever read this piece and remember this.

It was a wonderful, changing experience. I became more conscious in absorbing the knowledge. It grew into a mindful routine of acquiring new information. But now I’m becoming addicted. Unlike other addictions, this one keeps the mind sharp. I will let you know next time whether I fought the Rubik’s Cube temptation.

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San Jose, CA 95129
(408) 418 3491
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