Learning how to Learn

After missing a week of my self-imposed schedule of weekly thoughts on music, and already being 24 hours behind and dangerously close to missing another I thought it might be good to whip off a quick note about something I have been meaning to mention for a while.

I've been slowly working my way through Learning How To Learn by Idries Shah, a book that was recommended by Dave Holland during a masterclass at the New England Conservatory.  I've been reading it slowly because it is one of those books of spiritual insight that needs to seep in bits at a time.  One of the first things that struck me was regarding why we want to learn more.  The metaphor they use is knot-tying.  Tying a knot is practical, but some people take it further and weave beautiful tapestries.  We do have an inherent desire to create and pursue our interests.

Another interesting point they make is that a student learns best when he wants to do what the teacher does.  This sounds overly simple, but in the world of piano lessons, I see parents looking for a piano teacher based on things like cost and location primarily.  When I was in my teens and interested in studying jazz, a potential teacher said, "Come hear me play at the Jazz Festival and we can talk then."  From the first day I saw that teacher as a performing musician who was showing me the ropes, not a professional regurgitator of information.  By seeing my interest in live music, I think he may have also been auditioning me. 


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