I don’t have a lesson today – Teacher is away at an Irish fiddle camp in one of the Carolinas (I can’t ever keep the Carolinas straight – apologies to the good people who call them home). I was interested in her preparation for the expedition – she has been playing her fiddle for the past few weeks to prep in earnest. By “fiddle,” I mean she took one of her backup violins (not her Very Fine German One) out to the luthier to have him put on different strings and a lower bridge. Of course a fiddle is just a violin, but playing seriously in the style of Irish fiddling apparently necessitates some tweaks to the standard violin setup. After the changes, she was feeling horrible about the way she sounded on the fiddle, “It’s all I can do to play with the thing.” So she was keeping it with her, playing it all the time in the hopes that she would arrive at the camp sounding respectable. I have heard her play this backup violin before and hate to admit that I couldn’t tell much difference (it definitely sounds different than her Very Fine German One, which oozes buttery brown sugar).
Lifelong learning is so important – of course that’s part of why I’m playing my own fiddle. I’m thrilled that my teacher takes time to learn more about music and grow. I’ve known of her continuing education from virtually the beginning of our relationship – she was taking tin whistle lessons back when I started studying with her. I think she focuses on folk music in her off hours because she spends so much of her professional time in the world of classical music and show tunes. I also think her choices obviously mark rather significant departures from her Japanese-American heritage.
The best teachers tend also to be serious students with passions for life-long learning. I’ve seen my karate teachers engaged in life-long learning too – both in their continued training in the martial art we share and in other endeavors like music, bonsai, swimming, and now yoga. Learning keeps our minds open and flexible. As educators, learning also allows us to step into our students’ shoes and experience their perspectives – their frustrations and joys and triumphs.
I hope you have some great teachers of your own, and that they are learning and growing.
Thanks for reading.