So it is that time of year again where I endeavor along with a handful of other adults to take awkward adolescents and turn them into amazing god-like beings. It’s a fun gig. The first thing I want to do is to remind them to take care of business. They are transitioning from adolescence to adulthood. They need to be responsible. They have to figure out a plan to get from here to there, where ever there is. It is all about managing their time. There is always time to make things happen, you just have to plan it out.
Here is a quote I read the other day that I thought it would be cool to share with them. “What we love determines what we seek, what we seek determines what we think and do, what we think and do determines what we become.” I make it a point to share with them that I am a reader. I know this generation gets their information primarily from media and not the old school way, but there is a lot of information on the internet they can research. They need to learn to feed their own minds and not what the dominant medias want to cram down their throats, literally sometimes.
Here’s an interesting thought I wanted to share with them too. In some ways each of them are a little smarter than me. That is true of anyone. We are all a little different, unique. We have our own thoughts, are own way of seeing things. Sometimes, because of their point of view they may see something a little more clearly than I do. It is possible, and I want to believe that. I never want to believe there is something I cannot learn from someone. That is an important idea to me.
Here is another great thought I want them to believe. The essence of each and every one of them is greatness. It’s not an arrogant thought to believe. It leads to confidence about an ability to endure, an ability to accomplish, an ability to push through when a part of them says no, another part of them will say, dammit YES I CAN DO THIS!
Here’s another thing I read that was kind of an epiphany. It had to do with understanding the Trinity, as that concept is still being debated. It segmented the mind into 3 parts: knowledge(information that an individual has acquired)/self-knowledge(what you know about yourself)/and desire(what drives us to do the things we do). I think compartmentalizing things helps people deal, cope, get through things in life. I think it is important that they think! It is not a natural thing, it is, but it isn’t. It is definitely something that can be taught, and I am going to do it!
Another concept I want to cover is the idea of visualizing things in the mind’s eye. They MUST imagine being successful not just in what I want them to do but in everything they do. The more they think about doing something well, the more likely it will happen. Of course hard work, preparation, and yes sometimes a little luck helps, but it starts with the belief that yes, they can make IT, whatever it is, they can make it happen. I cannot imagine them not being successful. I don’t no why anyone would think they cannot. Be the awesome that you admire.
Something that I don’t think has happened to the degree that I would hope it would happen is them videoing themselves doing visual basics. It is so important for them to be able to see themself and critique and evaluate themself. They are all musicians. They can hear themself play and make corrections. They must video themselves individually at home and take the time just as they learned their instrument to learn how to move in space and be able to see that, and do that. We need to make better time as an ensemble then essentially writing standards. It’s like the weekly spelling list. Here are the words, learn them.
Another topic I mention too infrequently is that pain and discomfort are not bad, nor should they be avoided, but looked forward to. I know that excellence is achieved only through some sort of sacrifice. It seems so simple and obvious but it obviously is not. I should know human nature much better than I do sometimes
Conditioning. I know this was something we are definitely going to focus on this year if we are to reach the next level up as an ensemble. Our success will be determined on their individual responsibility to get stronger. I have to think of it like Pali band camp all year. She had those kids sweating their asses off that whole summer. Some of her new staff were amazed at how hard those kids were pushing themselves. I believe we too will achieve that understanding. We will pay ahead for our success, and it will be that much sweeter when we achieve it.
Having said that, I need to go back and reemphasize the importance of mental endurance. Their minds need to be stronger than their bodies. They cannot allow their bodies to dictate to them how they will perform. Pain and discomfort are temporary, visual excellence in a performance will last a life time. I know, I have seen the videos.
Finally it comes down to them coming prepared to every rehearsal. They have to do their homework (conditioning, visual basics, critique videos of themself). They have to be dedicated to the idea that the sacrifices they make now will make all the difference when it comes time to learn the show. They will be ready, they will amaze, they will make history.
This I believe.