Sunday, April 18, 2010

Thinking this through...

Ok, so I had a rough day of practice yesterday. It was like I went in and "just did it." There was no joy in the effort, no real sense of learning at all. It was "grind, grind, grind." When I started playing the cello, my goal was to play for myself (and the Lord). I wanted to learn how to play so I could enjoy the result --making beautiful music. I didn't think much beyond that goal. It was a pretty lofty goal for me, considering that I had no musical ability at all. I couldn't play a note, couldn't read a note, and the thought of actually doing two things at once (fingering and bowing), well was simply wishful thinking (to this one who cannot go anywhere without walking into a door or trip up a curb).

Today, as I sit here quietly reflecting on my practice session as well as my goals, I am confronted with the reality of the situation. Playing the cello is not a cake-walk. It is not as easy as 1, 2, 3 and rest. It is hard work, and it requires diligence and perseverance. I have attempted to learn the cello on sheer determination. I have stuck it out, chosen to overcome obstacles, and I have made very good progress. I have studied hard, approached the subject as though it was something I could simply attack with logic and reason (my chosen approach).

Now, that I have had some time to think back on my approach, I realize this: if I am going to really learn how to play the cello, then I have to dedicate myself to the study, regardless of the outcome. Logic dictates to me that "if you work hard enough, whatever you seek will come to pass." There is never any guarantee in that belief -- you can work really hard at becoming an Olympic swimmer, but there is no guarantee you will make the Olympic team.

I may want to be a professional cellist one day, but there is no guarantee that I will do it. I can work very hard towards that goal, but I have to be satisfied with the journey, the process of it, and not fixate on the goal. If that is all I am doing, then when I get there (if I do), what is next?

No, the journey, the learning process has to be what motivates you onward. That way, whether you arrive at your goal or not, you will have satisfaction in the process. You will think, "I made it," not because your goal was achieved, but because of all you overcame and all you learned along the way.

My new thinking is this:
  • My goal to complete Book 3 is valid, but no the be-all-end-all of things
  • My goal to improve steadily is valid, but cannot be measured consistently. There will be good practice days and poor practice days. Persevere.
  • My goal to play professionally is valid, but may not come to pass. The better approach is to play as a professional would -- seeking to be the best cellist I can be.
  • My goal should be to master the cello, to play with proficiency and grace. My goal should be to make beautiful music, for me and for others, but not to be like any one particular cellist.
My goal is now to be the best I can be, to study hard, and to persevere in the work necessary.

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