Monday, April 30, 2012

Learning Something New;

I have a unique opportunity coming up shortly. An opportunity to spend 3 months learning something new. I think 3 months is quite a bit of time. Plenty of time to practice.  Plenty of time to find out 'what doesn't work'. The possibilities are endless. Maybe time to move from novice towards being an 'expert'?
There are a few limitations which is making my decision on 'what to learn' a bit difficult. For most of the 3 months I will be sitting on the back of a tandem! This is why I thought perhaps a musical instrument might be my best choice. The 'pilot' of the tandem is not quite so convinced!

We have already had a discussion on instrument possibilities. I thougth a nice little marimba style thing across my handle bars. Brian could make this- then I could tap away tunes. Having an engineers brain means that Brian immediately pointed out the difficulties in this plan. So; no marimba.

The instrument needs to be able to be played with one hand. Over the years,  cycling on the back of the tandem I have learnt that it is unwise to take both hands off the handlebars. Sometimes the pilot performs unexpected manoeuvers-causing the 'stoker' (me) to propel forwards into the seat in front. At times this can be very funny. At other times not so funny. So one-handed instrument playing is all I will be able to do.

I have a couple of weeks to make my mind up. The instrument needs to be small, lightweight and not too complicated to play. Whilst I am not going to book a venue for a concert on my return- I am determined that this is a possibilitiy. Any musicians that can advise me? Or perhaps those of you who aren't constrained by space might like to learn an instrument over the next 3 months also.  Who knows what might eventuate in the realm of musical collaborations towards the end of the year!
Let me know your suggestions of instruments and also useful tunes to practice. I will try and keep you updated on my progress. No doubt there will be stories to tell.  I know learning something new, whilst an adventure, is fraught with difficulty, frustration and setbacks- I am tackling this with my best "Carol Dweck" mindset and feel sure I will succeed. Listen out for my return!

Monday, April 23, 2012


I have recently read Matthew Syed's book "Bounce; The myth of talent and the power of practice". It is a very encouraging read for someone like me who has often bemoaned her lack of 'talent'. There are however no shortcuts to learning. Like Carol Dweck, Matthew reminds us that we are responsible for our own learning and although it can be a long and arduous road- anything is possible.
I particulalry love this quote.  “feedback is the rocket fuel that propels the acquisition of knowledge, and without it no amount of practice is going to get you there.” (p94) My mind conjures up images to go with this- of propulsion, surging forward and heading off into the great vast unknown!
So as a teacher, I am also reminded of how I give feedback; whether to a child or to an adult, will have an effect. What I say and what I do, counts. I can be the bringer of 'rocket fuel'- with helpful specific comment and feedback. It's something I am working on, and like any learning-it takes practice.