November 14, 2012

Did you get what you came for?

I’m still on a high from the Washington Area Folk Harp Society Getaway that was held at the beginning of the month.  It was well executed and brilliantly taught.  The only negative comment I have is that the instructors were all so good and had so much great stuff to share that I had a really hard time trying to select which workshops to attend!

Workshops and other learning opportunities are like that – there’s so much to learn and so little time to learn it all.  The number one thing we have to do to really get the most out of a workshop is to be open to learn whatever the tutor is prepared to teach.  
That can be quite a challenge.  Don’t let these things get in your way:
  • Sometimes you’re not ready to learn what is on offer.  Just because you’re not ready doesn’t mean that you won’t learn something useful.
  • Sometimes you don’t have the ability to keep up - don’t get focused on being frustrated at what you can’t do yet, but rather focus on the concepts that are being shared.
  • Sometimes you just can’t keep up – again, don’t get frustrated.  And believe the instructor who says it’s ok if you don’t get it all right now – you have time later to come back to it.
  • Sometimes you don’t understand what was being said.  It is really hard to learn concepts if you don’t have the vocabulary yet.  Of course, the best way to build your musical vocabulary is to learn what things mean be being taught.
  • Sometimes, it just isn’t a good time to be learning – if you’re tired, stressed, or focused on other things – just sit in the workshop and absorb.  And enjoy the social aspect – nothing wrong with that!
What I find interesting though, is how much I have learned – even when I thought I wasted my time (and the instructors!).

I often say many things when I’m teaching – I talk a lot!  I have a lot to share and I want to give it all to the students!  I can tell by the looks on people’s faces if they understand what I’m saying (and when they do not).  And I typically tell them that it is ok to not “get” what I say - just listen.  All that good stuff is going in. Even if you don’t understand what is said.  Or you understand the words but don’t know what to do with the information.
Just hang on to that knowledge.  When you’re ready it will suddenly become clear – what it meant, how to use it, why you didn’t get it until now.
And don’t be frustrated if you leave thinking, “I didn’t learn a darn thing I wanted to!”  You have learned more than you know.  Sometimes you’re not ready to learn what you think you want to learn and what you did learn will prepare you for what you were looking for.  Sometimes what you are looking for (or what you think you need to learn) is not what you really needed to learn.
And why did you go to the workshop anyway?  Oh, that’s right, because someone who knows more than you about your chosen avocation came to share something with you – maybe in this instance you didn’t actually know best?
I wish I could impart to you how many times I have been sitting at my harp and have an “a-ha!” moment when something I didn’t understand just fell into place – and the sun came out and the rain stopped and I was brilliant!  That’s exactly how it feels.
Until that time, keep going to workshops, learn from the people you admire and like, take it all in, listen.  And go home and work…and wait for the A-HA!  to hit you.

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