Practicing Art

My son will be performing in a week from now. Like a bad good mother, I am pushing him to practice and practice more.

when it comes to performing arts, we tend to start learning by imitating the best in the field. Son is trying out moves and steps, he is watching Michael jackson videos for  hours. “How did he get so good? he asked.

“By putting in the hours,” I quoted. “Some artists were natural geniuses, but they, too, had to keep doing the task and perfecting their art.” while he is not yet appreciating the process, i realize  the rules apply for me too. And just in time , this morning i receive a letter from my mentor Robert Genn, relating the magic of ‘hook hours’ . (i consider him my online mentor – what doesn’t happen online these days? no pun intended, i am  grateful for this one.)

It turns out Robert went fishing with a guide, a master in fishing technique, and received his dose of wisdom. “Fishing is a  lot like painting, or writing. The more you stay at it the more likely you’ll drag something up.”

They waited on the water for four hours without a strike, the hot july sun wasnt easy, the calm drag made him bored, almost put him to sleep. In my own work , such times make me feel like abandoning the whole thing,  go cool off somewhere, and reconsider my much loved occupation. After how many bad compositions will i create a good piece. is   it worth the wait?

Robert Genn and Steve Woodley and their find - worth the bait!

“Time, time–that is our greatest master! Alas, like Ugolino, time devours its own children.” (Hector Berlioz)

To get real results you need to put in the hook hours. In his recent book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell gives what he calls the 10,000 hour rule. It seems it takes that many hours to get good at anything–doctor, lawyer, animator, musical composer, writer. “Success has to do with deliberate practice,” says Gladwell, “Practice must be focused, determined, and in an environment where there’s feedback.”  I completely agree that we should never stop honouring those who take the time and trouble to get good at what they do.



Filed under Latest Story, Me & My Art

2 responses to “Practicing Art

  1. Leo

    I agree with the final line but not for a kid… Kids must have fun is the only time in life that we are almost free before society and rules crush us.. (: tell him to play not to train he will have a full life of many hours of training …

    • Hi Leo,
      I promise he has had lot of fun in his 11 years of life, he is an expat, a TCK. ..and surely there’s more to come.
      Freedom is as much inside as is outside of us. I would like him to learn freedom of discipline, freedom of decision. I agree with you. i am teaching him to enjoy the playing, to enjoy the process of performing, that will bring out the real artist in him. and time will tell whats to become of it.

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