James was having difficulty with a piece of music and told me that it was his least favorite and that he didn’t like it at all. To his chagrin, I assigned it for a third straight week. I told him that he need only work on the 4 measures where the problem seemed to lie. He was struggling with some transitions between hand positions, so we isolated the notes in the transition and I suggested he repeat those several times to get the movement programmed into his fingers, ears and brain. Good son and student that he is, he followed my advice. By the third day, the 4 measures were sounding much, much better. (I think I mentioned in another post that Mom is no longer hovering daily over his piano practicing, so I was hearing from a distance.) James asked me if he could go ahead and play the entire piece — you know — the one that he hadn’t liked at all. And then later in the day he asked if he could go play it again!
This episode got me thinking about similar experiences in my own life. I recall job assignments that were at first awkward and difficult and I really hated doing them. But then I would focus on the difficulty and eventually the task became a part of me and often I would end up enjoying the activity—or at least find myself being able to do it without hardly having to think about it. I have also experienced this with vocal and instrumental music. And now, watching James have this experience this week, prods me toward a few other activities (crafts and cooking, for instance) to which I should be applying this principle. The teacher is always learning.