I have watched my young children begin their journey with music, learning to play the piano. May it be a long and enjoyable time for them. I’ve also observed their development, and their introduction to new pieces and new musical concepts; notation, time and dynamics. It’s all great! And it’s also a struggle for them (and for me). Whilst focussing on a new piece, my daughter would get frustrated with my corrections and suggestions of ways to practice. But we would get through it and the practice would conclude. ‘Rest’, I tell her. ‘Even though you felt that it was hard, you’ve made progress. You concentrated and your practice was of high quality’. The next day she would sit at the piano again and as soon as she begins, there is marked improvement. One that she notices herself.
One thing I overlook all the time is the fact that when we learn, when we put our minds or bodies to the task of acquiring new knowledge or practices, it isn’t till we conclude this stage and enter into a stage of rest, that our beings absorb. We reflect , sometimes unconsciously, and put things in order- make sense of it all. This stage of rest is essential for deeper understanding to occur. It’s a natural occurrence.
Whilst training for long runs I often observe and marvel at how my body and muscles get stronger, and I move up the mileage scale. The interplay between exercise and rest is essential for this progress. Coupled with consistency, this makes perfect sense, as the body needs to repair itself after getting a battering. But beyond that, the process of constantly observing and correcting optimal form, gait, cadence, footfall, breath etc., uses up your energy too. And it’s not till you stop, rest and sleep that the real work begins. The process of deep learning, where every muscle in your body absorbs and becomes familiar with new knowledge, brings us to the place where understanding and insight occurs.
From this place we are truly able to experience any knowledge we acquired, turning it into our own uniqueness and deliver outwards again in the form of inspired and better running….. or music.