My “practice/suck less” diagram drawn on @devthomas’s chalkboard-painted podium in his 7th grade classroom. I was delighted to hear from several teachers who said they were now discussing it with their students. “This is now my teaching philsophy statement,” tweeted @toddpetersen, “in full.”
I’ve been thinking about how practice is its own skill — that once you learn to practice, you can transfer that skill to almost anything else.
A few years ago, I tweeted, “Lots of people decide to train for a marathon and just go out and do it. Why not chose to have better handwriting? Or play the piano?” And @aribraverman tweeted back, “Actually, training for a marathon, going out every day… has helped me be better/braver at being new at things…. Started to learn French, learned to ride a motorcycle. Running helped me not stress/expect to be perfect right away.”
There are other lessons that practice teaches. Here is Liz Danzico on learning to play music:
Learning to play music is an long exercise learning to to be kind to yourself. As your fingers stumble to keep up with your eyes and ears, your brain will say unkind things to the rest of you. And when this tangle of body and mind finally makes sense of a measure or a melody, there is peace. Or, more accurately, harmony. And like the parents who so energetically both fill a house with music and seek its quietude, both are needed to make things work. As with music, it takes a lifetime of practice to be kind to yourself. Make space for that practice, and the harmony will emerge.
Here is my not-so-classroom-friendly image of practice. (The piece is Schumann’s “Träumerei.”)