Keep an Open Mind

September 16, 2014

As a new school year begins, it’s important to encourage everyone, especially those starting in new places to keep an open mind.  In my last trumpet lesson before heading off to college, my teacher gave me two pieces of advice.  The first is something I still tell my students at the end of their time at IU:

When you meet with other teachers in the future, they may offer advice that sounds contrary to what you’ve learned from me.  Listen to them.  Give it your best shot.  It could be exactly what you need.  

The second, although informative, was not nearly as useful as a musician.  It was:

Watch out for dancers.  They have ugly feet.  

If you’re going to make the commitment to study one-on-one with someone, you should put your trust in them.  It has been a bit of a surprise to hear from students “that’s not how I do it” or “that’s not how I learned that.”  Usually I’m offering a different approach precisely because how the student does or learned something is giving them problems or limiting their growth.

But this doesn’t apply just to a student/teacher relationship.  It’s very easy for professionals to become set in their ways and reluctant to keep searching for anything that can help.  That search can be for new music, information, approaches, or technology.

This is where the internet is the best, and worst, place to go looking.  YouTube is a great example of this.  There are so many amazing performances that people have shared on YouTube that I would never otherwise been able to see.  But there are also plenty of people that think what we need to see is them holding out the highest note they can squeak on their phone’s camera.

The same goes for message boards and websites.  Although I want to encourage everyone to keep an open mind, that does not mean believing everything you read.  I try my best to keep up with everything that is out there.  The stuff I find that is great I share with my students and friends.  The stuff that is…well…not so great…well, if it’s really funny, I’ll share that too.


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