I fly into Minneapolis thinking that all those green, deciduous trees look like baby broccoli. I remember when my parents would help me entertain thoughts of eating broccoli by standing them up on my plate to look like miniature trees; soon enough my imagination became swept up with the idea of baby trees, and I'd be excited to stand my broccoli up and peer at it before stuffing it in my mouth. Apparently this whimsical view resurfaces when tired, and now the sleepy adult Kate looks at trees as broccoli and not the other way around.
These are the (very odd) thoughts that arise as I begin my travel to back to the East Coast.
My husband-- is it weird that I'm still excited to say that?-- and I have spent the past few weeks adjusting to arid-and-ruggedly-beautiful Colorado, and now I'm on my way to Connecticut, to celebrate my mother's birthday as well as complete Violin Book 3 Suzuki training.
Those who have completed any sort of book training, or any other intensive professional seminar, know how simultaneously exciting and draining the experience is. The teacher trainers and students are trying to squeeze SO MUCH LEARNING into such a small amount of time. I often come home with a stack of index cards to process that's an inch thick - new teaching strategies, thoughts on the meaning of what I do, connections between subjects that I'd never made before. It's a personal renewal. It reminds me why I love music. Watching students and teachers work together is a meditation.
When I walked into Book 1 training with Carrie Reuning-Hummel, my emotional reserves were decidedly desert-like. I was burnt out from conservatory and the weird politics that always seem to accompany the setting. I had spent a lot of time critiquing myself in destructive ways, and had basically backed myself into a corner, both violinistically and personally - I couldn't move or take an action, never mind practice!, without a shaming thought. In brief, I had lost touch with my innate life force, that goodness that is ever-present within all beings. Somehow despite my excellent start as a Suzuki-raised violinist, I'd lost my way.
My purpose for completing that Book 1 training was to simply have some tools in my mental kit for teaching young children. I'd recently been hired at the International School of Music, and anticipated an onslaught of young beginners - at the time, this was completely out of my comfort zone! SO, I showed up for some tips. What I got in return for my attendance was a renewed hope, a glimmer of spontaneous movement.
I saw teachers meeting the students where they were. The student was never inherently "right" or "wrong", never to be judged; different scenarios were merely different starting places. Every step was broken down into components, and implemented with strategies, that suited each individual child. This was a teaching method that was compassionate and imaginative.
As I've kept coming back to book trainings, I feel so hopeful about this method as a way to teach children how to learn "productively" - to learn from a place that encourages staying in touch with their inner life and their unique imagination. I hope that I can help to make the world a more loving place by teaching this way. And I also know that as I "teach" myself and others this way, I will put a balm over what has passed, and open myself to the dewy possibility in every new bow stroke, every new moment.
Thank you for reading.