My garden is stuck, and yes, I am stuck on garden themes this summer, thanks for noticing. But hey, school starts in 30 days, and my gardening will go out the window for a few months, so I figured I would use the metaphor while it lasts!
I realized today, that right now, even though my garden is “stuck”, it won’t stay that way forever. I am waiting for time to be able to move on to the next step of the project, and that should motivate me again. Of course my husband and I both hurt our backs in the last two weeks, (me while sitting on a piano bench!) so I guess the garden is going to be stuck a while longer. But I can’t let that discourage me.
This whole realization got me thinking of the times when my students are stuck. They seemingly make no progress in their practicing, or in their lessons, or in our times together. It’s discouraging for all of us. But eventually the fog lifts and the sun comes out again, and “stuck” is replaced with momentum. The key is to not get discouraged in this time of slow or no progress. Just keep reminding them that this too shall pass!
I think there are quite a few reasons for being stuck, but my top ones include lack of motivation, lack of purpose, being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the project, lack of inspiration, and not realizing how far you have already come.
My garden has been stuck for weeks now. I feel like I’m making no progress whatsoever and part of that is because of the size of the project. This is a mammoth undertaking…..shocker, it’s me! I never do anything small. I mean my first macrame project was a nine foot hanging table! So today I picked one small project – I needed to move some leaf mold to the garden for “the bed that never ends”(got that song stuck in your head now didn’t I?) I really didn’t want to move the leaves. It was hot and humid, there were yellow jackets everywhere I wanted to be, and I was tired from weeding. But suddenly I was inspired because I realized that if I raked up the leaves in the area where I want to put a fire pit, I could kill two birds with one stone. Instant motivation! Now moving the leaves had a purpose and I could actually make progress on both the stuck part of the garden as well as the bigger garden known as our backyard.
I know that sometimes the obstacles that stand in the way of our students making progress are seemingly too big for them, and they have to be broken down into smaller steps so that they are able to move forward. Uncovering what the obstacles are is important. Maybe it’s just a matter of sitting down with them and going over pronunciation or maybe helping them with a complicated rhythm or strange intervals. Maybe they are having personal problems and just need to vent. Whatever the source of “stuck” is, once they can get past the obstacle that blocks their path, they often start to make quicker progress and find new motivation all over again.
Sometimes we need new inspiration to get moving. When my garden, or anything else in my life is stuck, I can sit down with a gardening magazine, or Pinterest, or read a good book, or watch a great movie, or go someplace new, and be inspired all over again in a relatively short amount of time. I start making big plans for other things I want to do in life, or I start envisioning the garden as finished and beautiful. Suddenly the weight of being stuck starts to lighten. This is the kind of inspiration that we need to pass along to our students as well.
Inspiration can come in many forms, like listening to other singers, especially really good ones that are singing a piece the student is working on, going to a good concert, getting outside and enjoying the beauty of nature, taking a nap, or just going out for coffee and chocolate!
Often, all that is needed is to shift their focus to another realm, and get to the objective through another avenue. This can kick in motivation for me. Maybe we just need to give an old piece a break for awhile. Working on a piece in “stuck mode” makes us so sick of it that we don’t ever want to do that one again! Maybe we need to do something new just for fun. Perhaps we need to skip working on the French for the umpteenth week and find something else to work on. Whatever it takes to get the motivation back.
Sometimes it’s just understanding how much progress they have already made and just how far they have already come. I usually try to make a recording of our first session together to save for just such a time. When they are discouraged beyond belief because they just can’t make any progress, I pull out the recording and play it for them. They usually gasp and say something like, “That’s not me is it?” It’s amazing how much inspiration and motivation comes from just realizing that you are indeed making progress.
Maybe that’s what I need to do with the garden…..go back and look at the photos of where it was five months ago. I HAVE made progress, and even though I feel stuck right now, maybe I’m not really stuck at all. Maybe I just need some new inspiration and motivation.