Every year, I sign up to learn something new. This year, it’s been CrossFit training so far. Last year was rowing and stand-up paddle boarding, the year before was archery and salsa dancing. The last few years have been things that are more physical because that’s just the zone I’ve been in. But before that I was doing more cognitive activities like language learning (Turkish, Arabic and Koine Greek).
Besides the fact that I like to learn new things, I also intentionally do them so that I can keep the mindset and attitude of a learner. A learner is someone who’s confident enough to enter an unknown territory and let herself be vulnerable. A true learner is someone who’s willing to put time into simple activities that become a building block of a skill.
And a learning-teacher is a better teacher. Now, I think playing the piano is one of the most complicated activities on the planet; insane level of coordination between hands, fingers, feet and the whole body, notation, which is basically a code language full of mathematical formulas and patterns, a keen sense of internal rhythm and pitch, sensitivity to tone and phrasing of music, and oh, BTW, you’ve also got to put your heart and soul into it! No wonder students forget to breathe and get their right and left hand mixed up! And in those instances, I can look back to my salsa dancing lesson when I kept putting my left foot instead of my right foot. Or my rowing class, when I kept putting my left hand over right hand (instead of the other way).
Learning keeps me fresh, energized and keeps my mind flexible. I’ve wondered if it is because I was successful at learning to play the piano (I’m sure I’ve put my 10,000 hours in), that I’ve learned to transfer that skill into other things like starting a couple of businesses, organizing a round-a-world trip, and working on a couple of masters degrees that are not related to piano. Perhaps.
And as for my students, today it’s piano, but tomorrow, who knows what it will be? Yes, I’m determined to save the world–one piano lesson at a time.