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Blog 60 Obstacles)

March 25, 2018


Why have I chosen this word for my next blog?
In answer, because we as a species tend to place obstacles in the way of achieving real results. We place these things in front of our learning, creativity, self-restraint, productivity and so on and so on.

Of course, the word obstacle can easily be replaced with the word excuses, but I feel it is more useful for us to think of them as obstacles. Partly because they get in the way of our real desires and goals, and partly because like obstacles they can be removed.

Let’s deal with excuses. Sometimes things happen beyond our control. This can become more so as your life takes on more responsibility and depth shall we say. Family, career, compulsory social all seem to ramp up the commitment as we get older and to a degree that is all good. This is where we gain the quality of our lives. So, when we are taking care of our family this is important and deserves our focus. Or it could be said a real acceptable excuse.

The advantage of course of getting older and taking on responsibility is what maturity brings to the table. We learn to be more efficient with our time. How many parents have made this remark “what did I do with my time before I had kids” Parents are often the most productive members of the community because they must be productive, In our jobs, we learn to delegate or at least try not to do everything. Our families are of course always important, and we learn to deal with our ever-changing roles in the family So, we know we can manage our time differently to get to do the things we love. We just must love it that’s all.

Ok, that’s a bit of an oversimplification but it does give us something useful to work with. A feeling.

When we come across an obstacle to our music, our learning, creativity, self-restraint, productivity and so on and so on. Analysis the feeling is there a real desire to say practice the piano or is there a sense of relief that you don’t have to work at that hard bit that just won’t come right (possibly because you haven’t tried it enough). Or perhaps in the self-restraint department, ask yourself this, is there any point in waiting to the New Year to making the resolution not to smoke for example. If you are serious about giving up that is what you will do, give up not wait. I asked myself this same question coming into the New Year when I was living and gigging in Melbourne. It was early 90’s. I said to myself “If you’re really *%#$^& serious about this you will give up now. And I did, in fact, I haven’t smoked since. You see the New Year thing was just an obstacle. Something to place in front of the doing. Realising this gave me a true resolution not to smoke.

Having taught music for a long time now I have learned to spot many of the more typical obstacles that are employed. Even before a student becomes a student people give themselves away with obstacles. Look for the word first and you will usually find the obstacle. For example, we just want to meet the teacher first. Just come to the lessons. If you are coming to me, you can come as often as you want. There is nothing to be achieved in meeting the teacher first, to know if you like the music on offer or not you need to just get on with it. So when I hear the words I/We just need to ………………….. first I know they probably aren’t going to do it. Those who do well are the students that are looking for a lesson time as soon as possible they want to do it, they have sounds and tunes they want to explore and questions to ask. Learning to play music is not for the faint of heart it is for the eager if you want to do it, Just Do It. Don’t wait until you have a bit more time or you get life a bit more under control. You never will, spare time evaporates like an elusive vapor and control is fiction.

Ok, that’s just before we even get around to the obstacles to practice. Student “The dog ate the music.” Teacher “But it was improv. Student. “I don’t like the tune”. Teacher “but you choose it”. Or the classic “I’m too busy”. Now I am being a bit cheeky and yes, we often are too busy. But if you look at the feeling behind the statement you will gain a useful understanding. Did you miss playing the piano when you couldn’t practice? If the answer is yes, then good music is for you. If the answer is no, then enjoy what you choose to do and don’t feel guilty about it.

One last example. I will pick on me this time. In planning this year, I have chosen to give more time to the creative endeavor. I have discovered that I use being administratively sound as an obstacle to my own creativity. You see it is hard to be creative it has a high failure rate as you chuck away ideas that don’t work and you can often feel like your spinning your wheels. Therefore, a quick admin task takes priority. (obstacle) So It is much easier to want creativity then it is to do it. The feeling however of achieving a good piece of creative work is the key to pulling you through. Remove the admin obstacles with just a priority change and I am getting my end results. More compositions that I really am pleased with.

The trick is to analysis the obstacle and see if it is working for us. Sometimes relaxing is just as important as productivity or duties. It is up to each one of us to decide on what they want.
And ones person’s obstacle may be another person’s pleasure (breakfast with my family gains priority over most things in my life).

So, there is no value in beating ourselves up about them. There is great value however in scrutinizing our obstacles to see if they really do suit our purpose in life. Then you can at least choose the outcome and enjoy the result.