One-handed typing and my learning opportunities

EDITORS NOTE: Given the pain medication induced delusional state, I have strongly encouraged Scott to take this week off. He ADAMANTLY refuses and insists that his "tens of loyal readers" require him to push forward and past the pain. Can you believe that? He ACTUALLY believes he has more than ten readers. Proof positive he is delusional.

Sitting here typing this newsletter is in many ways a painful experience. Beyond the actual physical pain associated with my surgery, also is the emotional/cognitive pain of trying to do it one handed. It is maddening, to say the least, as it takes three times as long and has four times the mistakes.

Typing isn't my only struggle. Due to an arm immobilizer (designed by Harry Houdini himself), I am relearning to do just about EVERYTHING. My once dominant arm has been rendered a useless relic in a way that only the Biosphere 2 or the Pontiac Aztek could understand.

Eating you ask? I now wear a bib as food placement to my mouth has become more of an approximation, rather than an exact location. Driving? Simple, but I need yoga-esque flexibility to navigate my good arm through the steering wheel to place the key in the ignition. Getting dressed? Let's just say, much to the delight of my six year old, the Lang household has recently loosened it's dress requirements to make pants an optional accessory.

To be honest, the entire experience has me feeling a little dejected, debilitated, and marginalized. Not that my life is so bad, but I am having to adjust as I relearn tasks mastered long ago.

What I have learned during the past week is that for me, learning something new is far easier than letting go of something old.

Because of this unexpected experience, I see now, with greater clarity, the challenges of teaching young people the value of music. I now see the connection between what I am going through for a few short weeks and what they go through for years. This is another reason that makes music education special. When a young person enters our room, we do more than teach them something new (music & instruments), we help them to let go of something old (youth & immaturity).

Let me elaborate.

Teaching young people to read notes and rhythms is important, but helping them to learn to let go of sloppiness and inattention to detail is paramount. Teaching a student a technically challenging passage matters, but helping them to learn dedication through failure in life matters more. Helping students to improvise over chord changes is intimidating, but helping them to find their own creative voice and be vulnerable in front their peers is transcendent. Teaching 125 teenagers eighty-five pages of drill and seven minutes of music is IMPRESSIVE, but teaching young people be a part of something bigger than themselves is MONUMENTAL!

As I said, learning something new is hard, but learning to let go of something old is harder.

And YOU teach BOTH each and every day.


(Now can you teach me where my pants are and how to put them on?)