Dear students and families,
Welcome to a new month, a new season and a new way of studying. These past 2 weeks have brought an abundance of change to our lives but remind us that we are very capable and flexible and if we really want to do something, we find a way to do it!
Down-Time: A True Story
When I was in grade six I banged up my knee playing kick-ball, right before Thanksgiving weekend. Within a few hours my right knee swelled up to half-again it's size, so by Tuesday I was not going back to school. Instead we went to our family doctor, Dr. Currie, and he prescribed crutches, ice, and instructions to wrap it, stay off of it, and keep it elevated for as long as was needed for it to heal. A few days later I saw him again, this time in the hospital to have the swelling drained with local anesthetic and a massive needle. I think I missed 4 or 5 weeks of school and after a week or two, I got very good on the crutches. I could cover some serious ground on those things and it was wonderful how quickly I adapted to them. With my knee tensor'd I was full speed ahead!
As the autumn wore on I was ripping around the yard on my crutches, and I read a bunch of books from the Scholastic book club, did my school assignment homework, and played guitar.
At this point I was still playing basic songs, single note melodies from my grade 2 books and trying to play instrumental surf tunes, like the Venture's Walk, Don't Run and Pipeline and this other great song called Stick Shift, which had this rumbling car revving up it's engine at the beginning of the track! I loved that sound - just all of it!! It was my mom's record, a 45 in a paper sleeve with no insert, which I obsessed over centering on the tiny pin on the record player. This was old technology, even then, when I was a kid in the 1980's, and it required some patience to get set up just right. At the end of the record, there's a bunch of tire screeching noise where I'd pick the needle up and put it back down at the beginning of the record, and start all over. I'm sure I did this over a 'hundred times trying to learn this song and then I'd play it for my mom while she made dinner, or when my grand parents came over for coffee.
It made a big impression because I still love cars and cars songs and it taught me to keep trying even when you don't hear it all the correct way and you feel stuck. That period also made me notice how some things come easy and some things seem to take forever to get right.
Crutches look hard but they're easy, and guitar playing looks easy but it's hard, (at least to really rip around on!)
It was a simpler time, and during this period I could only learn slowly on the guitar, but it allowed for an observation to start developing.
The Slow learning process.
In both the observation of myself and of many students over the years, I see that Slow learning allows for integration of knowledge and a recognition that we don't 'get' things the first few times, and that we shouldn't give up if we can't get it right away. It also points to the way we can continually refine our playing, our voice, our sound, our connection of heart with presence of mind, in an ongoing process.
Every time I play or teach one of those songs that I've played for my whole life, I still notice that there are things I'm learning from the piece. It's continually teaching me to listen with new ears and notice where I can improve, refine and refresh my understanding and execution.
I've also learned to get it ACAP (as close as possible), and then present it.
We develop character and patience once we've walked the path of learning a song or three, and we realize that taking our time and sticking with something is really the key to learning. Patience and persistent sticktuitiveness is what matters most, whether you're a slow, medium or fast learner and in time, we notice in ourselves that with many things that we learn, we might be a fast learner in one thing and a slow learner in something else.
Even as adults I think we sometimes need a gentle reminder of this. Sometimes adult learners know too much about where they want to go, and can be hard on themselves when the goal they're aiming for remains elusive for a long time. Learning music humbles us and awakens hope and joy in us when we make small gains, and for a moment be in the realm of creating an amazing sound!
Over the coming days and weeks be easy on yourself. We're here for you and available to field any questions about music and to stay in touch.
We encourage you to use this time to play and sing more, teach your songs to a family member (go slowly with them!) or put on a little show for them!
Look back at songs and exercises that you have and review everything you've played. Play a piece that you love two or three times, then close the book and try it again from memory.
Dig through your family record, tape, or cd collection and kids, ask your parents what some of their favourite songs were growing up, then ask them to dance! If you're feeling generous, you might try learning one of those old favourites for Mothers' Day, Fathers' Day or as a birthday gift.
We so enjoy seeing you in our online lessons and we want to hear all about your experiences during this time. Let's use this time as an opportunity to relax into music, expand our range of listening and allow ourselves room to grow.
There is a Future!
Registration for Summer Piano Camp, "Keyboard Climbers" which is a full-day day camp (M-F) with Alanna Kazdan at the helm. We have some lively 2 week camps planned that include outdoor time, music-making and games, and much more. Specifics on that are nearly ready to share, so watch for that coming to you soon!
Seale Seale's "Growing Grounded" Early Childhood Music and Movement Classes - an exploratory start in June and we're taking enrollment for September classes now. https://susanseale.com/april-
We will also have half-day "Summer Rockshop Band Camps" in July, and Private Lesson Instruction continuing now through the summer, (fingers crossed, our June Concerts will be doable)
If anyone else in your household wants to try online music lessons, just let us know, we're here to help.
In the near term, watch for fun clips shared to our Facebook page, @southislandstudio -- and seeing us on Zoom or Skype for your "new-usual" voice and instrument lessons!
From your friends at SIS, thank you. You, and the music you love, inspire us!!
...curious about that car song? Check out this obscure classic from 1961, "Stick Shift" by the The Duals >>> https://youtu.be/9CNcehcJayc