“at the heart of every frustration lies a basic structure: the collision of a wish with an unyielding reality.” ― Alain de Botton, The Consolations of Philosophy
In these challenging times, reading again one of my favorite books by the philosopher Alain de Botton puts me into one of those moments of self-absorption, deep thinking and inner observation .
Every one of us is surrounded now by mixture of feelings: frustration , uncertainty, anxiety and the sense that life is no longer yours as it used to be. The cancelled concerts, masterclasses, educational activities and all encounters: from personal lessons to a coffee with a friend or family member.
But in spite of all feelings, there is a huge opportunity to change something in our behavior ,an opportunity to get out of our comfort zone and adapt totally different habits, concerning practicing, teaching, communicating and so on.
Every day there is so much to learn , and as de Botton advises - accept. And appreciate.
Time , and schedule : De Botton talks about the term "let go" or "concede" – and I think it says something about control – and the most interesting thing I find is the different view we are facing now time and controlling it, rather than the time control us.
Our daily routine and schedule has changed dramatically , but how interesting, seems like I have more freedom of arranging the daily schedule . There are still students and classes to teach, there are still many pieces to play and practice, but there is some time saved. first of all -the travelling time is not counted, second - the concentration and energy is different, there is more focus , and surprisingly plenty of time to schedule your day, and even find hours of rest, and for "small pleasures" (de Botton).
Playing , practicing, studying : Quarantine is mainly a normal way of life for performing pianists - the solitude of practicing, studying scores , listening to recordings is our daily bread. So this sudden tranquility that fell upon us ,musicians, could certainly be a sort of blessing , despite of all the other difficulties.
Quarantine gives you finally the opportunity to study great repertoire that you never had the time to play, without the stress of the deadline, because you do not have one. This is a comforting feeling and gives plenty of motivation and confidence. It is a bit strange not to have a deadline- close or remote – but you find out that every day is a deadline in itself.
Teaching online: When it comes to teaching , the real challenge these days, more than the musical scores is the new "technological scores" – all these new softwares and devices that I never knew existing, and suddenly my vocabulary is filled with strange high-tech terms like "audio settings" and "screen share" .
As far as teaching online, I find myself study a new topic every day, trying to understand better the new media. The difficulties and frustration are piling on my desk and the computer keyboard like a huge crossword puzzle.
Luckily , there is so much information all over, and it is beautiful to see all these groups of piano teachers and the solidarity of one piano teacher to another.
Here are two wonderful groups that I learn so much from. Many thanks!
Affects of online teaching: After reading many posts and comments about teaching online , I see many similar symptoms : sore throat, exhaustion , different tone and body language in lessons, wrist problems from too many computer hours, stress , and many more.
Aside all these I find lots of new virtues- teachers will agree with me on that: more independence by all means from students, more concentration in front of the screen, and more hours of practicing.
As teachers' we tend to adapt different teaching approaches like new articulating , choosing different vocabulary, choosing different tone and body language in front of a camera, more focus of summarizing while giving instructions, and even replacing instructions into questions . The more we ask questions the students, the more interest is the lesson for all of us.
Videos as a tool of teaching communication: One of the things I used to do with students before the Corona times is getting short videos from then from time to time. Nowadays it is a wonderful tool and a good solution to the problematic zoom sound : they send the videos every few days, and I comment , either by writing or talking with them online, or both.
class meetings: Other great tools are the group meeting with the students: we hold run through and share recordings, seems like a good solution and option to classconcerts.
Let us all stay with good health and inspiration,
off to the other keyboard:)
“We may be powerless to alter certain events, but we remain free to choose our attitude towards them, and it is in our spontaneous acceptance of necessity that we find our distinctive freedom.” ― Alain de Botton, The Consolations of Philosophy