Thursday, May 7, 2015


I've been in a large number of workshops.  I've taught a decent amount of workshops.  And for the majority of both, usually the person/people in charge teach either what they are good at teaching, and/or what they think the students need.  I think that's pretty normal.

Sometimes I've seen/led workshops where the question is asked: "what do you want to work on?"  This is generally a good question, as long as the instructor(s) isn't asking because they don't know what to teach.

But a question I'd like to see asked is, "At your level, what do you think you should be working on?"  And I'm asking that of you.

It's different than asking, "what do you want to work on?", because people like working on all sorts of things.  Maybe someone brand-new wants to work on songs waaaay above their ability, or learn an instrument their group doesn't play for the purposes of incorporating it.

It's different from saying "this is what I think you should work on," because often people teaching a workshop have no idea of the skill level or ability of the people in their workshop.   It can also lead to a player not thinking so much what they need, and instead rely on others to tell them.

Asking yourself what you should be working on, at your level of ability and at your level of experience in the group your in makes you really stop and think.  What are my weaknesses?  What does the group need from me?  Where should I be focusing my attention?

Sure, there's definitely fun to be had in learning things that don't directly benefit the here and now.  And of course, sometimes taking workshops that you know are above your level really push you in ways that open your eyes.

The path we take in our art will always have twists, turns, bumps, and detours.  But if you know what direction suits you best, a lot of things can be avoided - or detoured to - to make your journey not only productive, but enjoyable.  Sometimes you just have to stop and recognize where you honesty are on the map and go from there!

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