Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Students, You Will Change

I don't believe there is a point in one's flamenco journey when one has "arrived." We have breakthroughs, epiphanies, and growth spurts, but there is no end when it comes to learning. We are all students from the time we discover flamenco and decide to pursue it.

The idea of being a student is far more complex than we often realize. Being in front of an instructor and doing what they tell us is just one part of something bigger. For example, our beliefs and attitudes inside and outside the classroom greatly affect what we gain from our studies. Adjusting to who is teaching and what is being taught is another skill that ensures we take away something lasting and meaningful from the experience.

Suppose I find myself in a class with an instructor whose methods and style don't feel comfortable. Should I determine that it's a waste of my time to be there, or should I do my best to understand the instructor and their material? What if I can't see a scenario where I'm using the material they've given me?

Perhaps the best approach is to assume there is something beneficial in the process that will manifest itself in some form in the not-so-immediate future. A slight difference in the way one does something may produce big changes down the line. Perhaps the change won't be big, but significant nonetheless.

I get it. We all desire to develop our own "voice" as artists. What we never seem to realize, however, is that this will happen whether or not we consciously pursue it. However we interpret information we're given determines what our voice ends up looking and sounding like. Often times, it is our resistance to change that causes us to stagnate as artists. In the end, maybe our biggest apprehension is that we'll change in some unplanned, unforeseen way, and we don't like the idea that we're not in control.

As students, it seems our biggest challenge is accepting change because it threatens our own concepts of self identity. If I don't fear change, however, I will inevitably grow in a way that is unique (and unavoidable). While it's important to understand and recognize our voices as they currently are, it's just as important to realize that, like it or not, they will change in some way. Wouldn't it be better to welcome in the change and enjoy it for what it is?