Seeing to believe is not enough

Dear #ClassicalMusic Fan,

You have probably heard the phrase

“Seeing is believing,”

which is a very sad way to approach life as it removes the opportunity for mystery and faith, two very innate human qualities according to Oxford University in 2011.

On the other hand, have you heard of this phrase?

People never learn anything by being told, they have to find out for themselves.Paulo Coelho de Souza
Author, The Alchemist

I have known my student Brian for quite some time, and we recently had one of his monthly Skype coaching sessions.

Over the years we have discussed many issues of what creates a brilliant performance, including the “why” behind the physical effort.

Although he could “see” what had to be done, he never quite “got it.”

He seemed to understand what he was trying to achieve, and believed it was the right thing to aim for, but never seemed to achieve it.

Brian had been working for quite some time on a passage of music he was having particular difficulty with, so I finally asked him to play it during our coaching session. I shared with him my observations and asked if he would like to try something a little different. Which, of course, he did. (It’s always polite for coaches to ask for permission to teach – it’s a delicate boundary).

“Try doing this…” I said, and gave a little advice.

He tried it.

My computer screen suddenly lit up like a Christmas tree: Brian’s face was beaming, his eyes glistened and cheeks glowed red, and his perfect white teeth shone through his camera.

“I GET IT!” He yelled. Literally.

It took me a little by surprise, but we spent a few moments enjoying the moment and exploring the fact that after years of teachers telling him how to do something, and my having mentioned the same thing a few times in our coaching sessions, Brian finally grasped what we were all on about because he experienced it for himself.

He had known it for years, understood what needed to be done, and had even seen his teachers and others do what he was trying to do.

But he had never experienced it.

He couldn’t transform his knowledge into action.

Seeing and believing was not enough for Brian: he had to have that personal experience.

Finally, during our coaching session, so much suddenly made sense to him and he was thrilled!

The rest of that coaching session remains a bit of a blur to be honest because we were both on cloud nine, enjoying Brian’s transformation.

Our few sessions since then have taken a different direction and are now much deeper in topics, conversations and explorations. One thing I occasionally have to put the brakes on for is his enthusiasm! Now Brian “gets it” through his own personal experience, he cannot wait to experience more and dive into everything anyone ever told him about performing and sharing live music.

Have you experienced such a revelation in music?

I’d love to hear about it.

And then, perhaps, we can develop ways to use that experience to help make the world a better place to live: