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Thinking about Sonia Buoé’s response to my last post on nine women… Precision.
Where does precision come from?
My stitching is precise. Now, it is how my hands speak for me, and possibly other romantic clap-trap. I’ve been doing the stitching a long time. Precision there is now effortless, thoughtless. There’s a haptic joy to be had from having over 40 yrs experience at doing something physical to the point where it becomes as mindless as breathing. Precision comes from those years. My eyes and hands know- actually my hands probably could do it by themselves.
Music, I was thinking, needed a different sort of precision. But I think, perhaps, I’m wrong. I think, in terms of music, I am looking at four years rather than forty, that’s all.
I watch Dan noodling about on his guitar and see that same mastery. And more so perhaps, after listening to a piece of music, after one listen, he truly hears it, precision…. He has heard the minutiae I only get when it is pointed out, or after the twentieth listen…

You know when you watch a child trying to master something? Furrowed brow, tongue out, clumsy fingers? That’s me.
And then you know when you watch a child who has mastered something? The small smile, the gleam in their eye, the dexterity, the chest-out pride in them?
And then the complete acceptance of that mastery- an unawareness of how special it is? They’ve moved on to a new challenge…
I have over the years been very privileged to see this happen over and over again.
That is the joy of teaching, particularly in primary. It is also the reason I stopped. There is such a requirement to measure and count now. Such an emphasis on the measurable, that the unmeasurable things are being cast aside. To me, the unmeasurables are the most important. I could see the time approaching when I would no longer have the time to nurture this and watch it happen, hell no… It wasn’t approaching, it had been hammering on the door for a couple of years. I’d just managed to ignore it, and due to a brilliant head teacher, even been protected from it.

I fear for the generation being taught in this way. It seems to be more about grading a school and degrading a teacher rather than nurturing a child and give them a love of learning and an appreciation of mastery. There is no time in amongst the crammed, weighted curriculum for them to discover their own skills, merely to discover what they are not-good-enough at.

I have two sons who are teachers. I fear for them too. Because they know how it should be, how it has been, how it could be, and are working with the almost entirely measurable. I hope they are able during their careers to see the pendulum swing back…

Maybe this is why my venture into the musical feels so wonderful?
It is fresh, challenging, difficult, hard work. My mastery of some part of it a long way off yet. I don’t know which bit I can master, or even if I am capable of that. But the effort makes me feel young. I forget the fact my knees are shot to shit, I take less painkillers when I am absorbed in this. I cannot feel bone scraping against bone when I write a really good line, or a bit of melody that fits it.

I strive for precision here. I have through some fluke of circumstance managed to surround myself with people who are nurturing me and feeding my still new obsession.
I hope I live long enough to appreciate the moment when I can do it without my tongue stuck out of the corner of my mouth…..
www.elenathomas.co.uk


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