I have 4832 pictures stored on my computer. It’s simply ridiculous, so I decided that I would start putting them into photo books.
And then my perfectionism reared it’s ugly head. I spent hours sorting through photos attempting to put them into chronological order, arranging by season, sorting by age, and carefully editing. And then, once that was complete, I found 4 new folders of random pictures.
And then I just gave up.
Miniscule Moments of Difficulty
It reminded me of one of my intermediate piano students. Jordan would take on big project pieces with vigour. He would encounter miniscule moments of difficulty. And then he’d give up. Next piece please!
For awhile I let him continue in this cycle. He was gaining skills, he was exploring a wide (very wide!) variety of music and his abilities were improving. But nothing (NOTHING!) was ever completed. This just wouldn’t do.
See The Forest For the Trees
I could have approached this student in two ways. 1) spend heaps of lesson time drilling those little bits until they were fixed or 2) teach him to see the forest for the trees… or “the big picture”. As option #1 was akin to torture for this particular student, I decided to go for number 2. And it worked.
I introduced the idea of “skip bars” to Jordan after a particularly frustrating moment for him. Before he had the chance to close his binder and ask for a different piece I quickly placed a post-it note over the measure that was causing the issue. It took some extreme coaxing, but eventually we came up with a “replacement measure” – something that sounded just okay, but that still propelled him through the rest of the piece. We wrote it on the post-it.
Jordan played this piece for 3 weeks without abandoning ship. This was a record. He protested when I removed that post-it, but was quite chuffed when, after 3 solid weeks of being “in” that piece, absorbing the key signature, the rhythmic structure, the patterns… he breezed through that previously frustrating measure without issue.
Some piano kids get lost in the forest that is their piece. They focus so much on what is difficult that it becomes all-consuming. This inability to see the big picture ends up halting progress in extreme ways (like Jordan) or in small ways (with persistent mistakes or reluctance to try challenging material).
Last night I used the auto-fill option on my photobook software. In 4 minutes my computer arranged thousands of my photos into a willy-nilly, out-of-order photo book. I pressed “order”. I’m learning to see the big picture too.