As I have progressed, I think back on the students that I have had. I can’t help feeling really bad about how I tried to teach them. I was very much a “try harder” kind of teacher. There was one older gentleman who took lessons from me for a few months to try to get back on the horn after many decades away from it. Sadly, I wasn’t able to help him. He quit and sold his beautiful horn. Is there a secret to dealing with guilt?
I believe that we are in no way responsible for the decisions of others, so just let it go. You can beat yourself up over this forever, or just accept that he made a different decision than what you would have done if you were in his place.
You can make something positive out of this experience by thinking about how you handled things back then and how you might handle a similar situation now. Turn what you feel was bad into something good and great for other players you come across.
Guilt is a construct we should think about. WHO is the judge who pronounces guilty? In my opinion there is no guilt! We must take responsibility for our behavior. That is, when I do something I sincerely believe in, there is never guilt. What we should do: keep learning,learning,learning…Never stop. And pass on new knowledge to others. That is our task.
Wishing you all the best
Guilt is a complex emotion and often goes hand in hand with shame, but can be mutually exclusive. Often it is our inner critic that causes those emotions which are sometimes warranted but sometimes not. An analogy is that 40ish years ago, I could buy codeine (highly addictive opioid), Valium (highly addictive benzodiazepine) and sudefadrene (used to make meth) over the counter at the chemist. Should the pharmacist feel guilt that he sold them to me or ashamed of himself for giving me such dangerous medication. Of course not, because at the time we didn’t know what we didn’t know. Years of biomedical research has brought to light the dangers of those classes of medication and restrictions are in place. If a pharmacist gave you a restricted class of medication now without a script, they should feel guilt and/or shame.
When you had that student, you didn’t know what you didn’t know, so your method was what you did know and, I assume, had brought success for other students so the brain has reinforced that behaviour over time. I haven’t been doing this course for long but it is diametrically opposed to the way I was taught. What I am assuming is that you have used a method that has worked for you, for other students, just not for this returning player. There is no reason for guilt that the chap gave up or shame that you might have failed him because, like the medication, the biomedical research had not been done.
Thank you for posting these thoughts and observations to the forum. When guilt (and/or shame as hucky2311 alluded to) is involved it can be difficult to want to share these experiences however I feel it is really important that you have.
I agree with those that have already replied, that you do not need to feel responsible for the decisions of another person. You were only doing your best with the best knowledge you had at the time. No need to feel guilty. I have had numerous teachers tell me the answer is just to “try harder” or that “I wasn’t trying hard enough”, which is clearly an imbedded part of brass playing psychology, and a reflection on brass playing psychology itself and not you.
Without making a mountain out of a molehill, to keep “trying harder” essentially leads to fighting the instrument and being hard on oneself. The word ‘fight’ is synonymous with the engagement of the sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight/freeze) which is also triggered by the guilt/shame response. This situation reflects an incorrect understanding of the physics/acoustics of the instrument in the general brass playing world and a lack of awareness of the psychology of learning. To remedy this, one has to move themselves out of fight/flight/freeze and this is why the further through Windworks I get the more I realise the most important exercise is just to find calm. ie meditation.
Thank you Wellsweb62 for starting this thread. I would love to hear other’s thoughts!
I love what patricknowland9 just posted. Apart from being a returning player, I am a science nerd. The feature of what Greg has done is to bring together at least 4 scientific disciplines, all proven as valid by robust scientific method, and created a unique (and as far as I am aware) groundbreaking approach. Other methods are really only based on physics (and as patricknowland9 also alluded to), some even get the physics wrong or teachers themselves don’t understand the basics of a sound wave resonating in an instrument. More importantly, the fields of physiology, psychology and neuroscience are included. The fields of psychology and neuroscience, for me, are actually the most exciting aspects. For the impatient player that focuses only on the physics and physiology, are not setting themselves up for success. For the change to be sustained, the neural pathways need to be created and old neural pathways deleted, which takes time and happens with the fundamentals. Big risk for experienced players is not grasping the psychology of the change which will directly impact the neural pathway development and the deletion of the old one. I am nowhere near the end of the course. I have intentionally stopped at the end of adagio and gone back to the start. I may do this several times because I believe this is where I reinforce new neural pathways and reduce the risk of the reemergence of unhelpful ones. Like I said, science nerd with physics, physiology and psychology qualifications and my daughter is a research neuroscientist. Happy days and for a brass playing scientist, this course is fascinating and like big bowl of chocolate ice cream.