In recent weeks I’ve been getting my students ready for our national graduations. To non-Suzuki readers this is like Suzuki’s answer to the conventional exam system. Students record themselves playing an ‘old’ piece that is at least a book behind their current piece and is pre-assigned by our national Suzuki association, the SEII.
As I type I have one more student to get through and I can send off all my recordings. For some it’s been a relatively easy process but if I’m honest for most it has been a struggle. The results however are fantastic! I’ll be so glad to see the cds off in the post but I am also so grateful to have taken part. What my students and parents have learned about themselves and their learning styles, abilities, attitudes, and music in the past month has been invaluable.
In most areas of our lives we are aiming towards the next milestone and constantly pushing forward. I find kids are so driven now and self motivated in a kind of competitive nature that I don’t recall from my own childhood. Maybe I’m looking through rose-tinted glasses?! I see a constant stream of students come through my door every week who are going from one activity to another and trying to do their best with them all. You can almost see the wide-eyed faces coming and you just know that the child is functioning on full throttle all week long and you may or may not get something out of them that day!
The past few weeks have taught my students that it’s not important how many pieces we can get through in a month or a year but more importantly it’s how we play and how we take the time to make our music beautiful that matters. They learn that while none of us are perfect we certainly cannot aspire to be perfect by ploughing on through everything mindlessly. Instead we can find our own version of perfect, our own interpretation, wherein we take time to get the best out of ourselves and our abilities, mindfully.
This graduation process has showed me that while a lot of the kids are preparing the same pieces, each of their versions are unique and indeed perfect in their own way. Reaching their own individual milestones is just as important as anything and only the student, parent, and I can understand what it really took to get them to this place in their education. That is the real victory here; not that they have graduated any particular level but that they have overcome whatever Achilles heel they had and a celebration of that.
To take this outside a musical context, we should surely be teaching ourselves and the next generation that it is worth while slowing down and smelling the roses! We should stop trying to do everything and have the ‘perfect’ life and instead do what make us unique and imperfect!
Have you ever felt like you are just going from one day to the next? I sometimes feel like I have my head in a tunnel and every few weeks I either have to make myself come up for air or I have a crash and burn moment (or weekend more accurately)! In these cases the most common denominator is that I haven’t time to process all the things I’ve had to do. Working with another music school plus running my own programme and being on a training course and planning a wedding can be time consuming! Turning off my phone and banning myself from the computer and email is vital! To unwind I listen to some chilling music, visit friends and family and go for a cuppa in the village with my boyfriend. The moment I finally relax though is when I realise that time will keep going regardless of whether I’m ready for it and if I’m not careful it will have passed and I will have spent it all with my head in the sand and how sad that would be. We need to teach the next generation that fitting in to everyone else’s version of perfect is not all it’s cracked up to be!