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My philosophy in training and life
September 17, 2014
7:56 pm
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TommyTheHat
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Many people set goals and then follow a path to that goal. This is not a bad idea in general but not one I follow. Well, not exactly anyway. I do have goals...sort of...but they are expanding goals. I approach them in a different way. To me a "goal" signifies an ending point. I don't care for ending points. People tend to have a "path" and that path is leading to their goal. A noble idea but can, at times, cause someone to head down the path, reach their goal then get a bit complacent or even stop. A path is a straight line....I don't do straight lines. My life is a circle.

Let's take training as an example here. I have seen may people over the years look toward advancement in their chosen endeavor. But they focus too much on the advancement rather than the task at hand and improving on it. They always move forward but tend to forget the past; they leave it behind. Hey, I never forget the foundation of the home I'm building. It's what's holding the building up!! Nor do I ignore the ground beneath it. Following a straight path is what leads people to believe they are improving. I'm sure they very well may be, but it also leads to another thing I've seen throughout the years. The "tenure" clams. What I mean is that some people start to believe that the years they've spent training automatically insures they know what they are doing!! HA! There is a difference between 20 years of training and 1 year of training 20 times.

My philosophy is more of a circle. I have goals but not so concrete. I more or less have a general direction. I have my sights set on something....I guess you can call it a goal...but it's open to alteration. And I don't follow a straight line. I circle around. What I mean by this is that I start out, perhaps as a beginner and I learn something new. I progress and I continue to grow and expand. All the while I never forget the basics and where I started. I never leave the "beginners mind' far behind. Now, eventually I come full circle and to the point where many would consider themselves advanced. But what happens is this, now, since it's a circle, I am back at the beginning again, but seeing the basics and where I started in a whole new light and mind frame. Now I am at a new beginning with a new understanding and ready to continue my journey. Ahh yes...the journey. You see none of my training is about the destination. It is all about the journey. I learn nothing at my final destination. I only learn during the journey.

"IF YOU FIND A PATH WITH NO OBSTACLES, IT PROBABLY DOESN'T LEAD ANYWHERE."

So my life and my philosophy in life and my training is like an enso (look it up). I also keep myself in a constant state of flux. I change. I used to write allot and had a blog about 15 years ago. I was starting to also write a book. But I can't. if I did I would have to commit to writing many books. Why? Because if I wrote a book, then five years from now my views and path will have changed or "re-adapted." I would have circled around a few more times. My original book would not be me anymore. That's why I deleted my blog and all 165 articles.
I am always moving. And I go backwards quite often, in order to move forward.

Here is my favorite quote by T.S. Elliot.

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."

Hmmm....like a circle?

Tommy

"It's not how many notes you know. It's what you do with them."

September 18, 2014
12:58 am
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OwenKorzec
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Interesting. I think of my life progress as a crazy zig zag but still centered in a general direction (although that direction may change over time)

i do think that sometimes vocal training specifically can feel like a circle or a one step back two steps forward process since mastering the fundamentals is really a big part of how we advance, but for life in general, I like the multi-dimensional, chaotic, zig zag visual, but I like to always make sure it's going somewhere better. I don't like letting my life journey get stuck or get worse, I want to always improve it, but I am opened minded in carving the path to improvement.

A great example is I am taking a musical theater writing class at Berklee now. But I want to be more of an indie pop rock singer-songwriter. Why would I take something so different? I had the teacher last semester for normal songwriting and he was great. It is still a songwriting class and I had just finished the pre-reqs to take it. I want musical theatre influence in my pop songwriting, since I hear it in my idols. Writing a musical is on my bucket list. All these little reasons add up and make it worth it.

Another example, I'm playing bass and singing backups in a top 40 cover band now. Again quite different from my goal. But it's some stable money, an exercise in professionalism, an opportunity to practice performing weekly and improve at that, a way to start out getting used to singing live with backing vocals only, some of the dance songs do give me songwriting inspiration, gets me to continue improving as a bassist, I learned how to learn a ton of songs really quickly, etc.

Two things that are fairly left of center compared to my specific dream. But I am ever grateful for taking them up.

If I only settled for the direct path, I'd be turning down so many great opportunities and therefore probably wouldn't go very fast on that direct path, and obviously, be less happy from being so picky. Being closed-minded is exhausting, as is having no direction/letting everybody throw you around. So I believe happiness lies in a balance between the two.

I'm only 19 though. Everything I think I know now will likely be discarded someday. Laugh

I feel like I spun your topic to a completely different perspective, sorry if that's off the point.

September 18, 2014
9:00 am
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TommyTheHat
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Owen,

You're young. I believe that for all your zig zagging and experiences as long as you keep learning, you will one day come full circle and all the things that didn't make sense at the beginning,even if after a time you finally learned them well, will be brought into a whole new light. More simple. An advanced beginning. That's when some one says "you make it look so easy."

By the way, I'm not sure if you may have misinterpreted something I wrote, but I wasn't implying a one step forward two step back approach. Smile

Actually I believe in the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen or continuous improvement. Incremental improvement. But again...it's circular.

"It's not how many notes you know. It's what you do with them."

September 18, 2014
10:38 am
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IAm
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Nice post Tommy, I really enjoyed the read.

So many things in life are cyclical.

"There is still a future with music, because people want music." - MJK

September 18, 2014
7:27 pm
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OwenKorzec
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TommyTheHat said

Owen,

You're young. I believe that for all your zig zagging and experiences as long as you keep learning, you will one day come full circle and all the things that didn't make sense at the beginning,even if after a time you finally learned them well, will be brought into a whole new light. More simple. An advanced beginning. That's when some one says "you make it look so easy."

By the way, I'm not sure if you may have misinterpreted something I wrote, but I wasn't implying a one step forward two step back approach. Smile

Actually I believe in the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen or continuous improvement. Incremental improvement. But again...it's circular.

Hm I think I might understand you better now.

Tommy have you ever switched teachers in a craft to someone with a bit of a different approach and you feel like you're starting all over but in reality you're just advancing further BY improving your fundamentals? So it's like you're starting new and advancing forward at the same time?

Another idea is, for instance for vocal training maybe you work a lot on head voice one week (or day or month, whatever) then a lot on chest voice the next and then the third you work on finding the balance for the passaggio and then you repeat that rotation over and over to strengthen the balance.

Are either or both of these scenarios what you mean by this circular learning?

September 18, 2014
7:46 pm
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TommyTheHat
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Laugh No.

It's not about the learning. You can learn anyway that works for you. All I mean is that I don't follow a straight path with a beginning and an end. I'm always finding new beginnings. My path has no ending point. When I reach the point where most people think they have arrived at their destination and feel satisfied. I regroup and continue on but this time on another level.
This doesn't necessarily apply to vocal training, it's just a life path. If I use a singing example it wouldn't be so much along the lines of the actual method of training; it's more about how you understand it and how you grow. You may sing a song as a beginner and then after a few months it gets a lot better. After a few years it may be fantastic. After man many years, maybe after you have been a pro for many years, you might return to that song and no for the first time truly understand it. Now the "beginner song" is advanced. Now you will be telling your beginner student who hates that song and wonders why you make him practice it that "someday you'll understand." Smile

Think of a spider web. When the spider starts weaving, the first strands make no sense. It looks like nothing and you think it has no point and never will. As it develops it starts to look more like something and every strand connects with another and has meaning. By the end, the spider is back at the start and the whole web now makes sense. The first seemingly meaningless strand now makes perfect sense and every piece of that web depends on each and every other strand. The beginning now has a new meaning.

"It's not how many notes you know. It's what you do with them."

September 18, 2014
9:15 pm
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OwenKorzec
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Hmm. That makes sense and I understand, I just don't mentally view it as a circle. Laugh

I can see maybe walking up an infinite spiral stair case. You arrive in the same spot in 2 dimensions over and over (let's say that is "the song"), but at increased height each time you arrive there again, (let's say that's the increased depth of understanding and application of skill in the song). But there's no way to just hop up to the next stair, you have to walk the circular path to get there. And it would be infinitely ascending because you are never done improving.

September 18, 2014
9:27 pm
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TommyTheHat
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In zen there is a circle called and enso. It is an incomplete circle and usually hand painted. the hand painting as well as the open end symbolize imperfection. There is no "perfection." Our journey is to always strive for it, but we will never reach it. If we do our journey will end and then so will our learning. THIS is the circle.

The enso is a Zen symbol of the absolute, the true nature of existence, the duality within life and the imperfection of all things. It is a symbol that combines the visible and the hidden, the simple and the profound, the empty and the full. The very imperfections and contours of the ensō, which must be painted by human hand rather than constructed as a mathematically correct circle, make the ensō a manifestation of perfection. It is perfect just as it is, even in all its imperfection. Ensō suggests to the student to stop striving for perfection and allow the universe to be as it is. Abandon the idea that there is a one size fits all path that ends at some specific point, place or time. When you believe that you have arrived at some final destination on your path, ensō reminds you to start again exactly at the point where you are now and to embrace and enjoy your unique experiences on life’s journey."

"It's not how many notes you know. It's what you do with them."

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