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Friday, March 31, 2017

Opting for life maintenance

I bailed on being a student today--and I bailed on being a teacher, opting instead to take care of human needs: the basic errands of life maintenance that tend to get shoved to the side but truly do need to be done sooner or later. I have more to do tomorrow, which makes me nervous, as I have so very much work to do before Tuesday--and since I'll be collecting essays from all three classes next week (Nature in Lit and the two 102s), I want to get as much of the collected homework returned as possible prior to spring break so I can actually take something like a break. I'll still be grading student assignments (or fussing about how I should be grading student assignments), but if I know I will take a few days to do a little warm-up on my summertime sea-cucumber impersonations. I might even see a friend who is not also a colleague. Will wonders never cease.

I do want to briefly report on the value of being a student, however. I had a truly crappy practice session on the violin today--the first time I've practiced in over a week, and it was monumentally frustrating. Some of that is because I've embarked on a new skill (vibrato, which looks so easy and sounds so purty when other folks do it but which is hard as shit and sounds like torture when I try). My instructor--who is in some ways actually a pretty bad teacher--did one very good thing which was to tell me that I would be frustrated and miserable and that it will take at least a year to start to get it. That was enormously helpful, and it made me proud of myself for confirming for my students that what I'm asking them to do is hard.

I also ended practice today in a "that's it, dammit, this is no fun: I quit" mentality--which lasted about ten seconds until I thought, "What about that whole 'work through frustration' thing you're so fond of preaching, Prof. P?" Kinda shut up the "I quit" voice, I must say.

Not much more to report today, I confess. Depending on what transpires tomorrow, I may post again. Or not. The blog posts don't seem quite as necessary to my sanity on weekends.

1 comment:

  1. I wrote a long prose poem around four years ago called "Tschaikovsky in the Bronx," dedicated in part to the violinist Nadia Salerno-Sonnemberg. It brought back nightmares of learning to play the fiddle (which I have not touched in years) and especially VIBRATO and MARTELLATO )those "hammer blows " made via stiff staccato strokes of the bow. In my minds eye I always saw myself getting standing ovation with Russian cheers ("Oorah! Oorah!"). The reality was mediocre but the vibrato was ultimately a great deal of pleasure! Nadia S-S ended up in the psych ward several times. Pressure can be enormous especially with little social reinforcement. And yes: it does potentially increase ones empathy for students - or not, depending upon ones level of frustration at the end of the lesson. Brava ! B

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