18 December, 2012

A Music Lesson Turns Into A Lesson In Motherhood

When I was in high school we had an option of learning the sitar. I chose it as the lesser of two evils, CBSE Hindi being something I did NOT want to tangle in for my 12th Boards.

Anyhow, my parents thought that my tinkering with the piano for a few years while I was younger would make it easier to learn the sitar for me. Erm. Yes and No. Western classical and Eastern classical being the individual behemoths that they are and piano and sitar being two entirely different types of instruments, the going wasn’t easy by a long. It was painfully funny. Wait…it was painful and funny.

Anyhow, that’s another blog post for another day. This is about the sudden recollection of a memory during a riyaaz with my music teacher eons ago. See, whenever I like something or discover I have even a minor aptitude for something; I need to do it faster and faster each time. Somewhere in my mind I equate speed with being better. But we all know the tortoise won in the end so...

Don’t mind my meandering. Somehow I think it adds a touch of my idiosyncrasies to my writing as well. My teacher, one of the best I've ever had in my life, was telling me not to fight for speed so much since it would take time for the arm muscles to get used to the new movements. She said if I sped up too often I’d sacrifice accuracy and cause my muscles to cramp. Right on both counts there. But I kept trying because I wanted to know how it felt to see my hands as a blur on the sitar and hear the tempo become rapid each time I played.

My teacher told me there’d be a time when the muscles on the right hand, just above the elbow would just freeze up and despite my trying my hardest it wouldn't budge. And then suddenly with a popping experience it would just become far more fluid- an obstacle would be crossed forever. That stiffness in the muscles and the fluidity thereafter would be like a bridge I would have crossed and wouldn't have to cross again and again.

Somehow today while coaxing the offspring to clear up the mess of his jigsaw pieces, his Noddy books, the chocolate wrappers and crayons I thought of me playing a sitar. The image came and went in a flash. Then I tried to relax with a cup of tea and sat on a clothes pin (which surprisingly turn up in odd places in my house all the time) and a building block and I just lost my cool. I was seething. The tea in the cup was sloshing and MLM was looking at me VERY warily. He might’ve wondered if his rear end was in for trouble or if he was going to have to spend an extended amount of time facing one of the well-used corners of the apartment.
Suddenly the analogy of the frozen elbow and the fluidity thereafter came to my mind and I just relaxed. I wasn't entirely calm but I wasn’t livid either. 
Call this intellectual masturbation but there is a similarity. Your mind gets stuck at certain junctures and it can’t go forward. You can’t progress from that point and going back isn't an option at all! 
Once you get over that obstacle, scale the wall, cross the hurdle, whatever! you’ll find you’re able to function with a clearer mind and find solutions or at least find space to think instead of reacting blindly.

A realization always brings something good in its wake- acting on it is what gets you the speed to get ahead.

Oh, and did I gain speed in playing the sitar? You betcha! I rocked at it- the tempo, the sounds, the whole shebang! I hope parallel analogies work out in both situations.
Fingers crossed!

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