‘Intellectual growth should begin at birth and cease only at death’ was Albert Einstein’s thought about learning and I couldn’t agree more.
There was a time in my life when I was bored of learning new things. The learning never seemed to stop through – school, college, extra-curricular activities, on-job learning. You just master a technique and a new one springs up in its place. Does this stop? I later realized that the universe works in this way…it constantly evolves and evolvement means change and change means learning.
In the meanwhile, the demand to constantly upgrade me had crushed my learning spirit for a while. And my prayer was answered as I went on maternity leave which got extended to a few years.
Motherhood was a totally different learning experience and a child is a great teacher. So I learnt new things. After a few years, my son began full-time school, and I now had a little more time on my hands.
I was searching for a tabla class for my son and the teacher informed me that they had an adult batch for learning the harmonium. As a child, I was attracted to keyboards. I enjoyed banging the keys of a piano in one of our school classrooms or exploring the keys on someone’s synthesizer.
So, I thought of exploring this hobby and began my new learning journey. The Hindi movies make it seem so easy. The Hero so easily impresses the heroine or a crowd with his guitar or piano playing skills. But that was not the case in real life. No art or skill is easy. It requires hard work and seems easy because of the practice.
During the learning process, I experienced failure many times. I used to press the wrong keys or wrong notes or I would forget the next note. Sometimes I missed my homework. The session would go wrong. Many a time I would go home upset.
I discovered that when things go wrong or are not working it just means you are going to discover a new way of doing that thing. And the next time the same thing goes wrong you now know how to correct it. That is learning! And of course, the Never Say Die attitude helps!
So slowly I began learning the harmonium. I was happy with my little steps and since I was learning classical music, I decided to do the exams. But I had doubts in my mind…exams again after so many years…can I do it? Exams meant performance and performance meant practice which in turn meant hard work. I was running away from hard work. I then made up my mind to do the exams without bothering about the result.
I sat for regular practice. But what does practice mean? It means repetition. And repetition is boring. Yet repetition or practice is the key. As you practice your weaknesses are highlighted. You realize areas that need focus and places that need more memorization.
The advantage of consistent, regular practice is that things become smooth. Good practice kills exam stress and negative thoughts and no question disturbs you.
It also grants you innate confidence and strength. And when you are in this comfortable and relaxed mode. You connect to the music and play from your heart. And when you enjoy your own performance others too enjoy it.
I realized that the essential part of learning any skill, language or art was to first learn the skill. Try it out. Keep trying despite failures. Most important step – Disciplined Practice with consistency.
And – Practice makes a man perfect so very soon you are going to develop finesse at your skill. In this manner, I have now reached the fifth level and the learning gets tougher with each level but the practice helps.
Once you know the mantra or art of learning things become easier. In this manner I was able to add many skills to my repertoire – driving, perfume-making, learning Sanskrit and the list goes on as with the Pandemic there are many more opportunities to learn new skills.
In fact, the Pandemic has all been about learning for everyone. Learning means you are open to change. So, let’s welcome the change! Cheers everyone!