Why Piano Teachers are Safe From AI 

Why Piano Teachers are Safe From AI

 

AI is eliminating industries so fast it’s making our collective heads spin.  ChatGPT can write in any style (goodbye, professional writers), edit and clean up prose (goodbye, editors), create code (goodbye, programmers), describe a picture that can be rendered with DALL-2 (goodbye, graphic designers).  The only people who will be left are the ones who sell ChatGPT’s services!

 

Except for piano teachers.

Adam Cole sitting at the piano smiling
TABLE OF CONTENTS
How Piano Teaching Actually Works
The Piano Teacher's Dilemma
What's the Alternative for Piano Teachers?
The Third and Best Reason

 

It’s a terrifying time to try to find work.  The old vision of robots doing the dirty jobs like housecleaning while humans write music and create art has flipped.  Instead we find that robots are writing the music and creating the art, and humans have nothing left to do but the dirty jobs like housecleaning.

 

Artificial Intelligence is completely reforming the landscape of work, and it’s doing it fast!  Everyone’s industry is at risk, from people who drive cars to people who draw them.  Why would anyone pay a human a living wage when a computer can do it better and for nearly nothing?

 

But there is one industry that is surprisingly safe from automation, and you’re not going to believe it.

 

Piano lessons.

 

I know what you’re saying.  “That’s ridiculous.  Piano lessons have already been replaced by online courses.  It’s only a matter of time before AI creates and hosts even better ways to teach piano.”

 

How Piano Teaching Actually Works

 

Let me explain to you how piano teaching actually works.

  • Parents hire a piano teacher to teach their child.
  • The piano teacher offers instruction in the lesson, and then tells the child to practice.
  • The child goes home, and the struggle begins because they don’t want to practice.

 

Here’s where it gets interesting.  The only way the child will practice is if the parents

 

  1. help them
  2. make them, or
  3. both.

 

Most parents don’t feel comfortable helping their child practice, and these days they don’t even feel comfortable making them practice!

 

That puts the piano teacher in an interesting place.

 

The Piano Teacher’s Dilemma

 

Piano teachers work for the parent.  The parent hires the teacher, and the parent is the person who decides when the child will stop. 

 

But if the piano teacher wants the child to practice, they have to put pressure on the parent because that’s where the impetus for practice will first come from.

 

But even though parents are the ones who actually have to solve the practice problem, the parents didn’t sign up to be the villain…they hired the piano teacher to take care of everything piano related, and usually they know nothing about music

 

If you pressure the parent of a child who isn’t practicing, the parent is going to feel bad about themselves, or blame you for your incompetence as a teacher, or both, and either way they’re going to end the lessons.

 

A smart piano teacher must find a way to navigate this impossible situation:  You need the parents to support the child’s practice without forcing them to do “your” job.  There are lots of solutions to this problem.

 

  1. Be authoritarian.  This will filter your client base so that you end up with mostly high-pressure parents who are more comfortable pressuring their children.
  2. Make the child’s happiness the highest priority.  This will filter your client base so that you end up with mostly low-maintenance parents with children who are constantly following their own muse, with you playing catch-up.

 

While either of these solutions may be workable depending on your personality and business model, they both have liabilities.  The first creates a very disciplinarian vibe which will teach the child that their joy will come from making the adults in their life happy.

 

Any intrinsic enjoyment will be pushed off for years or, in worse cases, indefinitely, resulting in high-level students who do not actually love making music.

 

The second creates a situation in which the child is in charge.  Unfortunately, children lack the experience to know the benefits of sticking to a plan.  When offered candy or green beans, they’ll pick candy every time. 

 

Once you start down this road, it’s nearly impossible to convince the child to do what you say.  Following the child’s path may lead you to some wonderful places, musically and otherwise, but it’s unlikely to create a situation where they can gather a set of related music experiences that they can build on.

 

The result will most likely be that the student will eventually get bored, and the parents will no longer want to pay for your babysitting services since you’re not getting anywhere.

 

AI can replicate both of these strategies.  Eventually, we’ll have a virtual authoritarian piano instructor whose rules and procedures must be followed or the program will not continue to teach.  We’ll also have a virtual “best friend” piano instructor that will have endless new directions to take the child whenever the child loses interest.

 

 

What’s the Alternative for Piano Teachers?

 

I have a third method that I’ve used successfully for years.  It keeps my students practicing, and keeps them re-enrolling year after year.  The best thing about this strategy is that AI really couldn’t do it.

 

The great hidden secret of piano instruction that nobody wants you to know is that students can get better week-to-week without practicing.  This is such a terribly subversive truth that many piano teachers will instantly go on the offensive if anyone suggests that such a threat to the idea that practice makes perfect, and no pain no gain, has any merit.

 

 Let me qualify the statement.

 

 Students will get better faster if they practice.  A lot faster.  My students who practice six days a week are my studio-stars.

 

But my students who don’t practice, or who rarely practice, still get better each week, just very slowly.  And if I can keep them in my studio for a year or more, they start to want to practice.

 

By then they’ve seen the progress they can make over time, they’re hearing themselves read and play music that sounds like something, and it all happened in the absence of any yelling or telling them how bad they are.

 

All that I have to do is keep them coming back to lessons long enough for that intrinsic love to kick in.

 

How do I do that?

 

I make the focus of my students’ practice routines the log.  I tell them from the get-go that how much they practice is up to them, and that I will never yell at them about it.  

 

On the other hand, I expect a complete log of how much practicing they’ve done that week, including the words “Did not practice” next to the dates they skip (even if that’s all seven days), and I will yell at them if they forget to log.

 

I make sure the parents hear all this.  What’s wonderful about this method is that parents will put the pressure on their kids to log, or will log for them, because it’s such a neutral thing to keep a journal, and it’s in their skill set. 

 

I can even browbeat the parents (with a smile) if the log isn’t there, and the teacher-parent relationship remains intact.

 

The log reflects the student’s work-ethic, but it’s not the work-ethic we’re insisting on.  It’s only the idea that the student and parent must keep track of their work-ethic. 

 

Whether they’re proud or ashamed of their practicing, all we as teachers will shame them for is failing to keep a record, which keeps them on the hook in a much less stressful manner.

 

Logging by itself isn’t sufficient.  You have to discuss the log each week, in a neutral, non-judgemental way.

 

The log provides information to you about the student’s engagement with the material which you can use to tailor your next assignment.

 

If a student hasn’t practiced, half the time it’s because they were out of town or on a break.  You can let that go, and encourage them to get back on the horse next week.

 

The other half the time, it’s because the assignment you gave was either too hard or too easy.

 

So you modify your assignment, make it harder or easier, week-by-week, depending on what the log tells you.  If you’re seeing 2-3 days of practice regularly from a 7 year-old, that’s an indication that they’re reasonably engaged with the material given their age and ability.

 

If that number goes up or down, you can figure out why and act on that information.

 

The Third and Best Reason

 

Best of all, logging forces the child to engage in something called metacognitive thinking.  If you keep their practice neutral, rather than shaming or positively reinforcing the behavior you are seeing, then they begin to understand that they are practicing for themselves and not for you.

 

They get in the habit of examining their own behavior dispassionately, and they relate the information they are logging with the results they are getting, rather than have you tell them how good or bad they are.

 

This is what professional musicians do: self-assess.  Professionals have music to learn, and a certain amount of time to learn it, and they decide how much and what to practice each week.  This is the skill that turns your students into real musicians who will partner with you for years.

Young woman holds rectangular magnifying glass up to her left eye facing us

 

AI is a very smart dummy.  It makes guesses about what someone wants from what they say.

 

Then it spits out information stored in its endless gut that its algorithm suggests may be useful.

 

It’s not going to cross the line into understanding the user any time soon.  It’s only going to get better and better at giving us what it thinks we want. 

 

And given the market-mindset behind its growth, developers are going to push it that way, rather than towards genuine intelligence.

 

Our logging model requires a constant interaction, a real relationship, with the child and parent.  We decide what to assign the child based on our experience as a player, and our knowledge of human nature. 

 

Then we revise our knowledge based on what we learn, rather than simply add data to our stack.

 

So if you’re looking for a safe career, piano teaching may be it!

 

I’ve written a course for beginning piano teachers that outlines this logging method, plus ways to teach pianists, young and old, how to read music and to improvise.

 

These approaches are designed to be so easy they can’t fail, and yet generate sophisticated readers and improvisers who never have to be guilt-tripped into practicing.  Want to see more?

 

Check out my course here!

 

Want to take piano lessons with me?  You can contact me at adam@acole.net or find my number on my website.

 

 

 

 

Put Up or Shut Up - Springsteen and Me 

Dear Musicfriends, Awaywithers* and Adam Cole Watchers, 

I can't very well go proclaiming myself the world's best anxiety coach unless I do scary things myself!  Can I?

So here's what I did yesterday.

I've been planning to create a series of ads for our upcoming performance of Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run album in April.  I knew what I wanted the ads to look like:  me playing some of the gorgeous Roy Bittan piano parts from the album, with mysterious and tempting words.  The problem:  I'd have to play those parts on camera!  

They're hard!

I had just finished up my church job yesterday and I had some time to kill.  I thought, “Let's go for it.”  I asked my music director to video me, and I dove in!  This is the first ad I created!

The reason I had time to kill is because later that day I had a studio session scheduled to record the vocals for my newest track on my upcoming album, Mix Six.  The song is called “I Picked Up My Guitar,” and not coincidentally, it's about stepping out of your comfort zone!  I had this bass and drums track that we recorded to practice on at home, and feel free to sing along to it!

I've been having trouble with my throat for about a year now, have lost my voice frequently, and have been to the doctor to find out I'm clear in every way.  So a mysterious throat ailment means you just have to work around it.  I've been warming up and hitting the Feldenkrais a lot to get myself as ready as I can be.

Lo and behold, the session went great!  I even hit a really high note that I've been dreading for months since I wrote it, and it sounds really good!  I'm eager to share the track with you when it's done!

What have you been up to?

Love,

Adam

Adam Cole, Performance and Confidence Coach

https://acole.net

*Awaywithers are our newest group, people looking for coaching on presentation topics that are separate from music, like writer's block, public speaking, and marketing challenges! If you're one of those people, or you know someone who needs help, please contact me!

Why Is It So Scary Trying to Learn Another Language? 

 

Can you speak a second language?

 

According to the website Preply, “There are approximately 3.3 billion bilingual people worldwide, accounting for 43% of the population.” 

 

How many people are bilingual in the US?,1 in every 5 adults.  20%

 

What is it about Americans that makes us less willing to learn and speak another language?  There are lots of reasons.  I’d be willing to bet anxiety is one of them.

 

There’s even a word for it!

 

Table of Contents

What Is It?
What Causes It?
What Can You Do About It?

 

What is it?

 

Xenoglossophobia  is "the feeling of unease, worry, nervousness and apprehension experienced in learning or using a second or foreign language."  It’s actually a thing!  It’s not just you.

I spent most of my life trying to learn a second language.

 

  • 3 years of French in high school  
  • a crash-self-course in German before I left on my honeymoon
  • endless hours listening to Spanish language classes on my long commute to and from my teaching job.

 

At the end of all of that, I wound up a person who was able to speak…ready for this?  Nothing.

 

That bothered me, because I really had a hunger to learn another language.  I wanted the skill, I wanted the security of knowing I could communicate if I traveled in another country, and I wanted just to not be afraid.

 

My biggest and best attempt came as I and my family planned a trip to Italy.  I spent the year before the trip researching how to best learn another language, doing everything I was told, and studying like mad.

 

It was fun being able to speak a little Italian!  Once I got home, I kept going.  I’ve been studying now for 6 years, and I’m finally at the point where I can understand an extended passage in Italian and can speak without sweating!

 

What kept me from being able to learn before?  What’s keeping you from doing it?

 

What Causes It? 

 

There’s a lot of good research on language anxiety.  Several interesting ideas are summed up in this paper by N. Eleni Pappamihiel.  In case you can’t download it or read it yourself, I’ll tell you the main points.

 

  • Fear divides your attention. If a particular situation threatens you, like talking to a speaker of another language, it will be harder to learn. 
  • Some people find learning languages difficult because they are anxious about everything (Trait anxiety)
  • Other people find learning languages difficult because attempting to speak them matches another situation that they find stressful like public speaking or test taking (State anxiety)

 

It’s important to know which of these scenarios you’re in.  Knowing yourself provides you the opportunity to find the right solution to your problem.  The alternative?  You could be swinging a baseball bat at a mosquito.  <crash!>

 

Some people are in the habit of telling themselves they’re “no good.”  These thoughts all by themselves can get in the way of learning.  You end up with a self-fulfilling prophecy - you told yourself you couldn’t learn, and therefore you didn’t.

 

What Can You Do About It?

 

Maybe more than you think!

 

The first thing is to recognize that, yes, there is a way you can improve in your language acquisition.  The second is that there’s more than one way.  Just like marketing, you have to find what works for you through trial and error, and you get better and better at that.

 

Anxiety is the thing that tends to stop people from going on that journey in the first place.  Not only anxiety about learning a language.  Anxiety about having uncomfortable feelings at all!

 

This may be the thing you have to overcome to get started.  I can help you with that particular piece.  In my coaching sessions I get people just like you over the fear-barrier and into the thing they want.

 

I tell my clients to begin by looking at themselves.  What exactly are you afraid of?  For me it was worrying about what the other speaker thought while I was struggling with their language:  how stupid I was, what a waste of their time.

 

It took me a lot of conversations with actual speakers to begin to realize that wasn’t the case.  They were fine correcting me, even happy to do it, just like I was happy to help them speak English.  The best way you find these things out is by going through them.

 

There are also so many resources available to start you on your language journey.  One of the most interesting I ever found was a book called The Loom of Language, which is very old but had some powerful and sensible advice.

 

  • Language study is different from language acquisition.  The first is memorizing rules, and the second is putting those rules into action.  You have to speak a language with someone to get good at speaking a language!
  • Find the simplest way to say whatever it is you want to communicate.  Save the fancy speech for later, when you’re great at it!
  • Learn the trickiest things in a language early.  My favorite things are “false friends,” words in one language that you think mean the same thing in another.  Preservativo in Italian doesn’t mean “preservative”…it means “condom”…so that’s a good one to have in the memory bank.

 

I’m living proof that even the most terrified person can learn to speak another language, given the right help.  If I can provide that help to you, either in this blog or in my coaching practice, I’ll be happy.  Please feel free to reach out to me if you want to know more!

Adam Cole is a performance and confidence coach and the Director of Willow Music, as well as the creator of the YouTube channel TruerMU.

 

P.S. - If you're looking for a tool to practice your language vocab skills, I wrote a paper that combines my Blues Piano teaching and my experience as a language learner.  You can download it here!

 

 


 

If you're a reader, and you like stories about Taboos, check out my stories in this new anthology! 

I've been included in a new anthology called “We Were Warned.”  Three stories of mine dealing with taboos keep company with a number of other chilling tales.

  • The Girl in the Cloche Hat , by C.J. Sweet -- In a restaurant in San Francisco near the close of World War I, an American soldier and a young woman from the British Isles are brought together over words in a fortune cookie that could spell doom or good fortune. But should they believe it?
  •  Taboo, by Leif Behmer – The crypt keeper, the priest, the next-door neighbor, the schoolmaster, or their own mother? Two unruly sisters dare to investigate to learn—who is the vampire attacking residents and travelers alike? Can they find out before it’s too late to save Franklin, the village bard, and keep the music going? The clues are unspeakable.
  • It Takes a Village, by Cash AnthonyDuring the annual Gatorfest in Anahuac, TX., the body of an unknown East Indian man appears out of nowhere in the backyard of a B&B. Jessie Carr, P.I., wants to know—could a missing fifteen-year-old girl be involved in this murder?
  • Immaculate Conception, by Adam Cole – Pastor Ron Swaller is caught in an unholy bind.
  • The Dybbuk vs. the Crime Cartel, by Mark H. Phillips – In Depression-era New York, a new hero teaches the underworld a lesson in terror. The criminal masterminds who prey on the weak will learn to fear…the Dybbuk!
  • Devil Dog, by Regina Olson – Charlie was not superstitious. He didn’t believe in vampires, werewolves, or monsters that came out in the dark, until the fateful night when he came face to face with one.
  • The Legend of Stingy Jack, by Dr. Gail Clifford, MD – In an Irish village on Halloween, a young woman tells the tale of Stingy Jack, the original Jack o’Lantern. Can a clever man get away with challenging the Devil?
  •  Flight of the Sparrow, by Adam Cole – A runaway woman from a nearby village is not what she appears to be.
  • Gutshot Straight, by Mark H. Phillips – A gun moll has to follow her man, especially when he’s on a vengeance-fueled race straight to hell!
  • L.A. Abbreviations, by James R. Davis – While the city’s still smoking after the rioting in Watts, two co-workers visit a place in that area where racial stereotypes still draw a laugh.
  • Invisible Evidence, by Cash Anthony – A man lies dead on the floor of his study where he was studying toads as witch familiars. Jessie Carr, P.I., discovers he died while summoning a witch. He did, but not the way she thinks.
  • The Sky People, by Regina OlsonJanet's mother has little tolerance for the cultural stories Grandmother tells, declaring them nothing more than superstitious nonsense. But Janet is fascinated by these magical legends and eager to learn more. When she performs the sacred ceremony of sacrifice her grandmother taught her, it leads Janet into a world of ancient tradition where she learns the shocking truth about the Sky People.
  • Safe Haven, by Adam Cole – In an ideal town surrounded by the memories of a hellish nightmare, one resident must decide how important remembrance is.
  • R’aku, by C.J. Sweet – When Ulrek’s mother is shot out of the sky on her giant condor, the wingrider falls to her death and the condor is severely injured. In his hostile village, Ulrek must choose between killing R’aku, rendered useless for hunting, or taking the condor into the desert when Ulrek is banished, which means a slow death for both.

     

Why Am I Anxious About Nothing? 

Why Am I Anxious About Nothing?

 

by Adam Cole

 

When we’re trying to determine the scariest thing we can do today, sometimes it’s just “get out of bed.”  Even though I’m a high achiever with daily goals and visible progress, great clients and a supportive community, I can get into a mood where it all just feels wrong.  It’s not so much depression as “stage fright” where all the world’s a stage!

 

Well, what do you do about that?  Can our approaches to stage fright work on just getting through the day?

Table of Contents

 
Trigger  
Knowing Your Trigger  
Feeding Trigger  
Fringe Benefits of Thinking About This Stuff  
It’s Going to Be Different For You  

 

Trigger

 

No, I’m not talking about the famous horse.  Imagine you’re walking through a ruined city.  Collapsed buildings everywhere, broken water lines spouting like geysers, cars askew on their sides.  “What could have caused this?” you ask.

 

Well, an earthquake, right?  But while that answer is correct, it’s not exactly sufficient.  What caused the earthquake?

 

You can find out from this article from the USGS that earthquakes are triggered by two huge land masses rubbing against one another.  It’s a little like snapping your finger:  the two masses “grip” one another as they try to move in different directions, and once the force of that grip is overcome, the masses are forced to let go, resulting in the release of a lot of energy (the snap, but on a big scale!)

 

So the most accurate answer to what caused the city’s collapse is the energy released from the release of these plates.  That’s the trigger, and everything you see was a result of the trigger.

 

That is to say that the trigger can be really specific:  two plates release, and lots of cities are shaken to pieces.

 

Knowing Your Trigger

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my triggers, and I mean a lot.  Because I’ve learned after years of working on it that once I know my trigger, it puts all the other feelings I have into perspective.  If they’re all a result of the trigger, then the only thing I have to address is the trigger, so I’m putting out one fire instead of dozens.

 

What’s my trigger?

 

Glad you asked.  My primary way of dealing with the world is “problem solving.”  It’s a useful skill, but when I come up against anything I perceive as an unsolvable problem, I get very anxious.

 

That anxiety spills into all my thoughts, making everything feel horrible.  It’s like the way clouds obscure the sun.  Even though they’re blocking a single source of light, everything goes dark.

 

What kind of problems are “unsolvable?”  

 

For me, running out of time registers as “unsolvable.”  If I have a performance coming up then I can only prepare so much before the clock runs out.  I can address the problem of time by practicing, but I can’t solve it because at some point I have to move on.

 

Having a bill to pay that exceeds my current cash flow.  Being in a fight with someone who won’t talk to me anymore.  These are all unsolvable in the moment, and they trigger me.

 

Feeding Trigger

 

Knowing the trigger does two things.

 

  • It allows you to let go of any shame that you’re “not taking care” of every little thing you feel.
  • It provides you the opportunity to prioritize your energy on something important, rather than just obeying your feeling that everything is terribly wrong.

 

When I know that I’m being triggered by an upcoming performance, I know that most of my doom-and-gloom thoughts are actually bunk.  I’m not really losing my mind about which pair of socks I want to pick today.  I realize that any anxiety around “the perfect socks” is just fallout from my initial trigger of the performance.

 

Of course, some things do need attention.  I still have to make dinner, and that’s a solvable problem.  What’s funny is the trigger can make me feel like it’s unsolvable.  I’ll get caught up in the feeling of anxiety, when what I really need to do is start problem-solving my meal.

 

The feeling is so strong that it keeps me from doing the simple steps I need to move forward.  If I know I’m being triggered, I can ignore feelings that don’t belong to the problem I’m solving and go and see what’s in the pantry.  In some cases, just knowing the trigger reduces the anxiety!

 

Fringe Benefits of Thinking About Your Trigger

Getting good at identifying your triggers can come in handy in situations where you have real problems with real anxiety.

 

For instance, I do get anxious before I perform.  Just about everybody does.  Knowing my “unsolvable problem” trigger really helps here.

 

I can identify several unsolvable problems around performance when I am accompanying someone.

 

  • I am not in control of what piece I am asked to accompany, nor when I must play it.
  • Whatever time I have to practice and rehearse is limited by my health and events in my life.  I am not guaranteed enough practice time.
  • The performer may ask for changes prior to the performance (i.e. “Can we do it faster?”), and may give me very little time to make them happen.  I may be unable to rise to the occasion due to my skill level and the fact that I am human.
  • Anything may happen in the audience during the performance that might throw off the soloist or myself.

 

Knowing that these problems are, in themselves, unsolvable, I can still address them.

 

  • In my practice time, I can gain familiarity with the kinds of pieces I am usually asked to perform.
  • I can learn to be efficient in my practicing so that whatever time I have is used as well as possible.
  • I can practice self-compassion with myself for not being perfect.  I can also prepare for “worst-case scenarios” such as practicing above the marked tempo.
  • I can practice “distraction games” at home.

 

In all cases, I am taking care of the trigger with specific strategies, rather than trying to address the fear with general solutions like “deep breathing.”

 

It's Going to be Different For You

This is my trigger, and these are my strategies.  You might not have the same sort of issue with unsolvable problems.  For you it might be relationship expectations, planning issues, or any number of other things.

 

Just like I outline in my “Seven Step Coach Approach” and my book, How to Solve a Big Problem, you start by thinking about who you are.  Then you think about what you want to do.  It’s amazing how many people fail to answer those questions before trying to deal with their anxiety.

 

It’s also reasonable to recognize that sometimes you need help, someone to guide you through that process.  If I can help you, please reach out to me.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Part One of our Interview with Music Photographer Jason Herman 

How do you get to be a music photographer? What do you have to know? In Part One of his interview with Adam Cole, photographer Jason Herman talks about what he loves doing best.

Jason Herman is a DC-based music photographer who is featured in the documentary "A Year In the Pit." His work can be seen on his Twitter feed iamtourmalet and at dcmusicreview.com. 

https://youtu.be/tP0SwimbBmA

What is good piano technique? 

In Part One of our Interview with Richard Beauchamp we explore the question of piano technique. Is there a "good one?" What does "good" mean? Is there one technique or many?

Richard Beauchamp is a pianist and educator who has studied with, among others, Ernest Empson. He performed on radio and television and appeared as soloist with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Early in his training he became fascinated by the difficulty music teachers seem to have in explaining what they mean, and by the fact that what they did was very often different from what they said. This led to a lifelong interest in anatomy and the mechanics of movement. 

In 1977 he joined the staff of St Mary's Music School in Edinburgh, where he has been Head of Keyboard for the majority of his years there until his retirement from the post in April, 2014. He continues to teach piano and accompany the students.

(Interviewer's note: The history of piano technique to which I refer in the interview is "Famous Pianists and Their Technique" by Reginald Gerig.)

https://lnkd.in/efh7CaeB

When I Found Out I Was Neuroatypical - The Problem Solving Problems - Presentation 

The Problem Solving Problems

This is a discussion about how to solve problems, both simple and hard. After a life of solving problems with a neuroatypical brain, Adam goes into detail about his own journey in discovering what he perceived was his greatest problem and the surprising solution. 

The Video Summed Up 

1) Problem solving requires breaking a problem into comprehensible pieces (not too small, not too large) and then reconstructing the pieces into something that can be "carried."

 2) Sometimes the connecting element is bigger than the problem, seemingly unrelated. 

 3) After a lifetime of solving very difficult problems, Adam discovered that the connecting element was his neurodivergence. It both caused his difficulties and enabled him to persevere. Ultimately he was working on those problems to discover who he was and to learn to love himself.

 Adam is the producer of the YouTube podcast "TruerMU" and the Director of Willow Music in Atlanta, GA, as well as the Assistant Editor of the Feldenkrais Journal. Through his talks and workshops, he addresses issues of problem-solving and cognition in children and adults, offering concrete strategies for working through anxiety and adversity. Learn more about Adam at http://www.acole.net Help for Helpers Nov 20, 2023 For a transcript of this presentation, please visit https://acole.net/the-feldenkrais-method

Why Piano Teachers are Safe From AI 

Why Piano Teachers are Safe From AI

 

AI is eliminating industries so fast it’s making our collective heads spin.  ChatGPT can write in any style (goodbye, professional writers), edit and clean up prose (goodbye, editors), create code (goodbye, programmers), describe a picture that can be rendered with DALL-2 (goodbye, graphic designers).  The only people who will be left are the ones who sell ChatGPT’s services!

 

Except for piano teachers.

Adam Cole sitting at the piano smiling
TABLE OF CONTENTS
How Piano Teaching Actually Works
The Piano Teacher's Dilemma
What's the Alternative for Piano Teachers?
The Third and Best Reason

 

It’s a terrifying time to try to find work.  The old vision of robots doing the dirty jobs like housecleaning while humans write music and create art has flipped.  Instead we find that robots are writing the music and creating the art, and humans have nothing left to do but the dirty jobs like housecleaning.

 

Artificial Intelligence is completely reforming the landscape of work, and it’s doing it fast!  Everyone’s industry is at risk, from people who drive cars to people who draw them.  Why would anyone pay a human a living wage when a computer can do it better and for nearly nothing?

 

But there is one industry that is surprisingly safe from automation, and you’re not going to believe it.

 

Piano lessons.

 

I know what you’re saying.  “That’s ridiculous.  Piano lessons have already been replaced by online courses.  It’s only a matter of time before AI creates and hosts even better ways to teach piano.”

 

How Piano Teaching Actually Works

 

Let me explain to you how piano teaching actually works.

  • Parents hire a piano teacher to teach their child.
  • The piano teacher offers instruction in the lesson, and then tells the child to practice.
  • The child goes home, and the struggle begins because they don’t want to practice.

 

Here’s where it gets interesting.  The only way the child will practice is if the parents

 

  1. help them
  2. make them, or
  3. both.

 

Most parents don’t feel comfortable helping their child practice, and these days they don’t even feel comfortable making them practice!

 

That puts the piano teacher in an interesting place.

 

The Piano Teacher’s Dilemma

 

Piano teachers work for the parent.  The parent hires the teacher, and the parent is the person who decides when the child will stop. 

 

But if the piano teacher wants the child to practice, they have to put pressure on the parent because that’s where the impetus for practice will first come from.

 

But even though parents are the ones who actually have to solve the practice problem, the parents didn’t sign up to be the villain…they hired the piano teacher to take care of everything piano related, and usually they know nothing about music

 

If you pressure the parent of a child who isn’t practicing, the parent is going to feel bad about themselves, or blame you for your incompetence as a teacher, or both, and either way they’re going to end the lessons.

 

A smart piano teacher must find a way to navigate this impossible situation:  You need the parents to support the child’s practice without forcing them to do “your” job.  There are lots of solutions to this problem.

 

  1. Be authoritarian.  This will filter your client base so that you end up with mostly high-pressure parents who are more comfortable pressuring their children.
  2. Make the child’s happiness the highest priority.  This will filter your client base so that you end up with mostly low-maintenance parents with children who are constantly following their own muse, with you playing catch-up.

 

While either of these solutions may be workable depending on your personality and business model, they both have liabilities.  The first creates a very disciplinarian vibe which will teach the child that their joy will come from making the adults in their life happy.

 

Any intrinsic enjoyment will be pushed off for years or, in worse cases, indefinitely, resulting in high-level students who do not actually love making music.

 

The second creates a situation in which the child is in charge.  Unfortunately, children lack the experience to know the benefits of sticking to a plan.  When offered candy or green beans, they’ll pick candy every time. 

 

Once you start down this road, it’s nearly impossible to convince the child to do what you say.  Following the child’s path may lead you to some wonderful places, musically and otherwise, but it’s unlikely to create a situation where they can gather a set of related music experiences that they can build on.

 

The result will most likely be that the student will eventually get bored, and the parents will no longer want to pay for your babysitting services since you’re not getting anywhere.

 

AI can replicate both of these strategies.  Eventually, we’ll have a virtual authoritarian piano instructor whose rules and procedures must be followed or the program will not continue to teach.  We’ll also have a virtual “best friend” piano instructor that will have endless new directions to take the child whenever the child loses interest.

 

 

What’s the Alternative for Piano Teachers?

 

I have a third method that I’ve used successfully for years.  It keeps my students practicing, and keeps them re-enrolling year after year.  The best thing about this strategy is that AI really couldn’t do it.

 

The great hidden secret of piano instruction that nobody wants you to know is that students can get better week-to-week without practicing.  This is such a terribly subversive truth that many piano teachers will instantly go on the offensive if anyone suggests that such a threat to the idea that practice makes perfect, and no pain no gain, has any merit.

 

 Let me qualify the statement.

 

 Students will get better faster if they practice.  A lot faster.  My students who practice six days a week are my studio-stars.

 

But my students who don’t practice, or who rarely practice, still get better each week, just very slowly.  And if I can keep them in my studio for a year or more, they start to want to practice.

 

By then they’ve seen the progress they can make over time, they’re hearing themselves read and play music that sounds like something, and it all happened in the absence of any yelling or telling them how bad they are.

 

All that I have to do is keep them coming back to lessons long enough for that intrinsic love to kick in.

 

How do I do that?

 

I make the focus of my students’ practice routines the log.  I tell them from the get-go that how much they practice is up to them, and that I will never yell at them about it.  

 

On the other hand, I expect a complete log of how much practicing they’ve done that week, including the words “Did not practice” next to the dates they skip (even if that’s all seven days), and I will yell at them if they forget to log.

 

I make sure the parents hear all this.  What’s wonderful about this method is that parents will put the pressure on their kids to log, or will log for them, because it’s such a neutral thing to keep a journal, and it’s in their skill set. 

 

I can even browbeat the parents (with a smile) if the log isn’t there, and the teacher-parent relationship remains intact.

 

The log reflects the student’s work-ethic, but it’s not the work-ethic we’re insisting on.  It’s only the idea that the student and parent must keep track of their work-ethic. 

 

Whether they’re proud or ashamed of their practicing, all we as teachers will shame them for is failing to keep a record, which keeps them on the hook in a much less stressful manner.

 

Logging by itself isn’t sufficient.  You have to discuss the log each week, in a neutral, non-judgemental way.

 

The log provides information to you about the student’s engagement with the material which you can use to tailor your next assignment.

 

If a student hasn’t practiced, half the time it’s because they were out of town or on a break.  You can let that go, and encourage them to get back on the horse next week.

 

The other half the time, it’s because the assignment you gave was either too hard or too easy.

 

So you modify your assignment, make it harder or easier, week-by-week, depending on what the log tells you.  If you’re seeing 2-3 days of practice regularly from a 7 year-old, that’s an indication that they’re reasonably engaged with the material given their age and ability.

 

If that number goes up or down, you can figure out why and act on that information.

 

The Third and Best Reason

 

Best of all, logging forces the child to engage in something called metacognitive thinking.  If you keep their practice neutral, rather than shaming or positively reinforcing the behavior you are seeing, then they begin to understand that they are practicing for themselves and not for you.

 

They get in the habit of examining their own behavior dispassionately, and they relate the information they are logging with the results they are getting, rather than have you tell them how good or bad they are.

 

This is what professional musicians do: self-assess.  Professionals have music to learn, and a certain amount of time to learn it, and they decide how much and what to practice each week.  This is the skill that turns your students into real musicians who will partner with you for years.

Young woman holds rectangular magnifying glass up to her left eye facing us

 

AI is a very smart dummy.  It makes guesses about what someone wants from what they say.

 

Then it spits out information stored in its endless gut that its algorithm suggests may be useful.

 

It’s not going to cross the line into understanding the user any time soon.  It’s only going to get better and better at giving us what it thinks we want. 

 

And given the market-mindset behind its growth, developers are going to push it that way, rather than towards genuine intelligence.

 

Our logging model requires a constant interaction, a real relationship, with the child and parent.  We decide what to assign the child based on our experience as a player, and our knowledge of human nature. 

 

Then we revise our knowledge based on what we learn, rather than simply add data to our stack.

 

So if you’re looking for a safe career, piano teaching may be it!

 

I’ve written a course for beginning piano teachers that outlines this logging method, plus ways to teach pianists, young and old, how to read music and to improvise.

 

These approaches are designed to be so easy they can’t fail, and yet generate sophisticated readers and improvisers who never have to be guilt-tripped into practicing.  Want to see more?

 

Check out my course here!

 

Want to take piano lessons with me?  You can contact me at adam@acole.net or find my number on my website.

 

 

 

 

Put Up or Shut Up - Springsteen and Me 

Dear Musicfriends, Awaywithers* and Adam Cole Watchers, 

I can't very well go proclaiming myself the world's best anxiety coach unless I do scary things myself!  Can I?

So here's what I did yesterday.

I've been planning to create a series of ads for our upcoming performance of Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run album in April.  I knew what I wanted the ads to look like:  me playing some of the gorgeous Roy Bittan piano parts from the album, with mysterious and tempting words.  The problem:  I'd have to play those parts on camera!  

They're hard!

I had just finished up my church job yesterday and I had some time to kill.  I thought, “Let's go for it.”  I asked my music director to video me, and I dove in!  This is the first ad I created!

The reason I had time to kill is because later that day I had a studio session scheduled to record the vocals for my newest track on my upcoming album, Mix Six.  The song is called “I Picked Up My Guitar,” and not coincidentally, it's about stepping out of your comfort zone!  I had this bass and drums track that we recorded to practice on at home, and feel free to sing along to it!

I've been having trouble with my throat for about a year now, have lost my voice frequently, and have been to the doctor to find out I'm clear in every way.  So a mysterious throat ailment means you just have to work around it.  I've been warming up and hitting the Feldenkrais a lot to get myself as ready as I can be.

Lo and behold, the session went great!  I even hit a really high note that I've been dreading for months since I wrote it, and it sounds really good!  I'm eager to share the track with you when it's done!

What have you been up to?

Love,

Adam

Adam Cole, Performance and Confidence Coach

https://acole.net

*Awaywithers are our newest group, people looking for coaching on presentation topics that are separate from music, like writer's block, public speaking, and marketing challenges! If you're one of those people, or you know someone who needs help, please contact me!

Why Is It So Scary Trying to Learn Another Language? 

 

Can you speak a second language?

 

According to the website Preply, “There are approximately 3.3 billion bilingual people worldwide, accounting for 43% of the population.” 

 

How many people are bilingual in the US?,1 in every 5 adults.  20%

 

What is it about Americans that makes us less willing to learn and speak another language?  There are lots of reasons.  I’d be willing to bet anxiety is one of them.

 

There’s even a word for it!

 

Table of Contents

What Is It?
What Causes It?
What Can You Do About It?

 

What is it?

 

Xenoglossophobia  is "the feeling of unease, worry, nervousness and apprehension experienced in learning or using a second or foreign language."  It’s actually a thing!  It’s not just you.

I spent most of my life trying to learn a second language.

 

  • 3 years of French in high school  
  • a crash-self-course in German before I left on my honeymoon
  • endless hours listening to Spanish language classes on my long commute to and from my teaching job.

 

At the end of all of that, I wound up a person who was able to speak…ready for this?  Nothing.

 

That bothered me, because I really had a hunger to learn another language.  I wanted the skill, I wanted the security of knowing I could communicate if I traveled in another country, and I wanted just to not be afraid.

 

My biggest and best attempt came as I and my family planned a trip to Italy.  I spent the year before the trip researching how to best learn another language, doing everything I was told, and studying like mad.

 

It was fun being able to speak a little Italian!  Once I got home, I kept going.  I’ve been studying now for 6 years, and I’m finally at the point where I can understand an extended passage in Italian and can speak without sweating!

 

What kept me from being able to learn before?  What’s keeping you from doing it?

 

What Causes It? 

 

There’s a lot of good research on language anxiety.  Several interesting ideas are summed up in this paper by N. Eleni Pappamihiel.  In case you can’t download it or read it yourself, I’ll tell you the main points.

 

  • Fear divides your attention. If a particular situation threatens you, like talking to a speaker of another language, it will be harder to learn. 
  • Some people find learning languages difficult because they are anxious about everything (Trait anxiety)
  • Other people find learning languages difficult because attempting to speak them matches another situation that they find stressful like public speaking or test taking (State anxiety)

 

It’s important to know which of these scenarios you’re in.  Knowing yourself provides you the opportunity to find the right solution to your problem.  The alternative?  You could be swinging a baseball bat at a mosquito.  <crash!>

 

Some people are in the habit of telling themselves they’re “no good.”  These thoughts all by themselves can get in the way of learning.  You end up with a self-fulfilling prophecy - you told yourself you couldn’t learn, and therefore you didn’t.

 

What Can You Do About It?

 

Maybe more than you think!

 

The first thing is to recognize that, yes, there is a way you can improve in your language acquisition.  The second is that there’s more than one way.  Just like marketing, you have to find what works for you through trial and error, and you get better and better at that.

 

Anxiety is the thing that tends to stop people from going on that journey in the first place.  Not only anxiety about learning a language.  Anxiety about having uncomfortable feelings at all!

 

This may be the thing you have to overcome to get started.  I can help you with that particular piece.  In my coaching sessions I get people just like you over the fear-barrier and into the thing they want.

 

I tell my clients to begin by looking at themselves.  What exactly are you afraid of?  For me it was worrying about what the other speaker thought while I was struggling with their language:  how stupid I was, what a waste of their time.

 

It took me a lot of conversations with actual speakers to begin to realize that wasn’t the case.  They were fine correcting me, even happy to do it, just like I was happy to help them speak English.  The best way you find these things out is by going through them.

 

There are also so many resources available to start you on your language journey.  One of the most interesting I ever found was a book called The Loom of Language, which is very old but had some powerful and sensible advice.

 

  • Language study is different from language acquisition.  The first is memorizing rules, and the second is putting those rules into action.  You have to speak a language with someone to get good at speaking a language!
  • Find the simplest way to say whatever it is you want to communicate.  Save the fancy speech for later, when you’re great at it!
  • Learn the trickiest things in a language early.  My favorite things are “false friends,” words in one language that you think mean the same thing in another.  Preservativo in Italian doesn’t mean “preservative”…it means “condom”…so that’s a good one to have in the memory bank.

 

I’m living proof that even the most terrified person can learn to speak another language, given the right help.  If I can provide that help to you, either in this blog or in my coaching practice, I’ll be happy.  Please feel free to reach out to me if you want to know more!

Adam Cole is a performance and confidence coach and the Director of Willow Music, as well as the creator of the YouTube channel TruerMU.

 

P.S. - If you're looking for a tool to practice your language vocab skills, I wrote a paper that combines my Blues Piano teaching and my experience as a language learner.  You can download it here!

 

 


 

If you're a reader, and you like stories about Taboos, check out my stories in this new anthology! 

I've been included in a new anthology called “We Were Warned.”  Three stories of mine dealing with taboos keep company with a number of other chilling tales.

  • The Girl in the Cloche Hat , by C.J. Sweet -- In a restaurant in San Francisco near the close of World War I, an American soldier and a young woman from the British Isles are brought together over words in a fortune cookie that could spell doom or good fortune. But should they believe it?
  •  Taboo, by Leif Behmer – The crypt keeper, the priest, the next-door neighbor, the schoolmaster, or their own mother? Two unruly sisters dare to investigate to learn—who is the vampire attacking residents and travelers alike? Can they find out before it’s too late to save Franklin, the village bard, and keep the music going? The clues are unspeakable.
  • It Takes a Village, by Cash AnthonyDuring the annual Gatorfest in Anahuac, TX., the body of an unknown East Indian man appears out of nowhere in the backyard of a B&B. Jessie Carr, P.I., wants to know—could a missing fifteen-year-old girl be involved in this murder?
  • Immaculate Conception, by Adam Cole – Pastor Ron Swaller is caught in an unholy bind.
  • The Dybbuk vs. the Crime Cartel, by Mark H. Phillips – In Depression-era New York, a new hero teaches the underworld a lesson in terror. The criminal masterminds who prey on the weak will learn to fear…the Dybbuk!
  • Devil Dog, by Regina Olson – Charlie was not superstitious. He didn’t believe in vampires, werewolves, or monsters that came out in the dark, until the fateful night when he came face to face with one.
  • The Legend of Stingy Jack, by Dr. Gail Clifford, MD – In an Irish village on Halloween, a young woman tells the tale of Stingy Jack, the original Jack o’Lantern. Can a clever man get away with challenging the Devil?
  •  Flight of the Sparrow, by Adam Cole – A runaway woman from a nearby village is not what she appears to be.
  • Gutshot Straight, by Mark H. Phillips – A gun moll has to follow her man, especially when he’s on a vengeance-fueled race straight to hell!
  • L.A. Abbreviations, by James R. Davis – While the city’s still smoking after the rioting in Watts, two co-workers visit a place in that area where racial stereotypes still draw a laugh.
  • Invisible Evidence, by Cash Anthony – A man lies dead on the floor of his study where he was studying toads as witch familiars. Jessie Carr, P.I., discovers he died while summoning a witch. He did, but not the way she thinks.
  • The Sky People, by Regina OlsonJanet's mother has little tolerance for the cultural stories Grandmother tells, declaring them nothing more than superstitious nonsense. But Janet is fascinated by these magical legends and eager to learn more. When she performs the sacred ceremony of sacrifice her grandmother taught her, it leads Janet into a world of ancient tradition where she learns the shocking truth about the Sky People.
  • Safe Haven, by Adam Cole – In an ideal town surrounded by the memories of a hellish nightmare, one resident must decide how important remembrance is.
  • R’aku, by C.J. Sweet – When Ulrek’s mother is shot out of the sky on her giant condor, the wingrider falls to her death and the condor is severely injured. In his hostile village, Ulrek must choose between killing R’aku, rendered useless for hunting, or taking the condor into the desert when Ulrek is banished, which means a slow death for both.

     

Why Am I Anxious About Nothing? 

Why Am I Anxious About Nothing?

 

by Adam Cole

 

When we’re trying to determine the scariest thing we can do today, sometimes it’s just “get out of bed.”  Even though I’m a high achiever with daily goals and visible progress, great clients and a supportive community, I can get into a mood where it all just feels wrong.  It’s not so much depression as “stage fright” where all the world’s a stage!

 

Well, what do you do about that?  Can our approaches to stage fright work on just getting through the day?

Table of Contents

 
Trigger  
Knowing Your Trigger  
Feeding Trigger  
Fringe Benefits of Thinking About This Stuff  
It’s Going to Be Different For You  

 

Trigger

 

No, I’m not talking about the famous horse.  Imagine you’re walking through a ruined city.  Collapsed buildings everywhere, broken water lines spouting like geysers, cars askew on their sides.  “What could have caused this?” you ask.

 

Well, an earthquake, right?  But while that answer is correct, it’s not exactly sufficient.  What caused the earthquake?

 

You can find out from this article from the USGS that earthquakes are triggered by two huge land masses rubbing against one another.  It’s a little like snapping your finger:  the two masses “grip” one another as they try to move in different directions, and once the force of that grip is overcome, the masses are forced to let go, resulting in the release of a lot of energy (the snap, but on a big scale!)

 

So the most accurate answer to what caused the city’s collapse is the energy released from the release of these plates.  That’s the trigger, and everything you see was a result of the trigger.

 

That is to say that the trigger can be really specific:  two plates release, and lots of cities are shaken to pieces.

 

Knowing Your Trigger

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my triggers, and I mean a lot.  Because I’ve learned after years of working on it that once I know my trigger, it puts all the other feelings I have into perspective.  If they’re all a result of the trigger, then the only thing I have to address is the trigger, so I’m putting out one fire instead of dozens.

 

What’s my trigger?

 

Glad you asked.  My primary way of dealing with the world is “problem solving.”  It’s a useful skill, but when I come up against anything I perceive as an unsolvable problem, I get very anxious.

 

That anxiety spills into all my thoughts, making everything feel horrible.  It’s like the way clouds obscure the sun.  Even though they’re blocking a single source of light, everything goes dark.

 

What kind of problems are “unsolvable?”  

 

For me, running out of time registers as “unsolvable.”  If I have a performance coming up then I can only prepare so much before the clock runs out.  I can address the problem of time by practicing, but I can’t solve it because at some point I have to move on.

 

Having a bill to pay that exceeds my current cash flow.  Being in a fight with someone who won’t talk to me anymore.  These are all unsolvable in the moment, and they trigger me.

 

Feeding Trigger

 

Knowing the trigger does two things.

 

  • It allows you to let go of any shame that you’re “not taking care” of every little thing you feel.
  • It provides you the opportunity to prioritize your energy on something important, rather than just obeying your feeling that everything is terribly wrong.

 

When I know that I’m being triggered by an upcoming performance, I know that most of my doom-and-gloom thoughts are actually bunk.  I’m not really losing my mind about which pair of socks I want to pick today.  I realize that any anxiety around “the perfect socks” is just fallout from my initial trigger of the performance.

 

Of course, some things do need attention.  I still have to make dinner, and that’s a solvable problem.  What’s funny is the trigger can make me feel like it’s unsolvable.  I’ll get caught up in the feeling of anxiety, when what I really need to do is start problem-solving my meal.

 

The feeling is so strong that it keeps me from doing the simple steps I need to move forward.  If I know I’m being triggered, I can ignore feelings that don’t belong to the problem I’m solving and go and see what’s in the pantry.  In some cases, just knowing the trigger reduces the anxiety!

 

Fringe Benefits of Thinking About Your Trigger

Getting good at identifying your triggers can come in handy in situations where you have real problems with real anxiety.

 

For instance, I do get anxious before I perform.  Just about everybody does.  Knowing my “unsolvable problem” trigger really helps here.

 

I can identify several unsolvable problems around performance when I am accompanying someone.

 

  • I am not in control of what piece I am asked to accompany, nor when I must play it.
  • Whatever time I have to practice and rehearse is limited by my health and events in my life.  I am not guaranteed enough practice time.
  • The performer may ask for changes prior to the performance (i.e. “Can we do it faster?”), and may give me very little time to make them happen.  I may be unable to rise to the occasion due to my skill level and the fact that I am human.
  • Anything may happen in the audience during the performance that might throw off the soloist or myself.

 

Knowing that these problems are, in themselves, unsolvable, I can still address them.

 

  • In my practice time, I can gain familiarity with the kinds of pieces I am usually asked to perform.
  • I can learn to be efficient in my practicing so that whatever time I have is used as well as possible.
  • I can practice self-compassion with myself for not being perfect.  I can also prepare for “worst-case scenarios” such as practicing above the marked tempo.
  • I can practice “distraction games” at home.

 

In all cases, I am taking care of the trigger with specific strategies, rather than trying to address the fear with general solutions like “deep breathing.”

 

It's Going to be Different For You

This is my trigger, and these are my strategies.  You might not have the same sort of issue with unsolvable problems.  For you it might be relationship expectations, planning issues, or any number of other things.

 

Just like I outline in my “Seven Step Coach Approach” and my book, How to Solve a Big Problem, you start by thinking about who you are.  Then you think about what you want to do.  It’s amazing how many people fail to answer those questions before trying to deal with their anxiety.

 

It’s also reasonable to recognize that sometimes you need help, someone to guide you through that process.  If I can help you, please reach out to me.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Part One of our Interview with Music Photographer Jason Herman 

How do you get to be a music photographer? What do you have to know? In Part One of his interview with Adam Cole, photographer Jason Herman talks about what he loves doing best.

Jason Herman is a DC-based music photographer who is featured in the documentary "A Year In the Pit." His work can be seen on his Twitter feed iamtourmalet and at dcmusicreview.com. 

https://youtu.be/tP0SwimbBmA

What is good piano technique? 

In Part One of our Interview with Richard Beauchamp we explore the question of piano technique. Is there a "good one?" What does "good" mean? Is there one technique or many?

Richard Beauchamp is a pianist and educator who has studied with, among others, Ernest Empson. He performed on radio and television and appeared as soloist with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Early in his training he became fascinated by the difficulty music teachers seem to have in explaining what they mean, and by the fact that what they did was very often different from what they said. This led to a lifelong interest in anatomy and the mechanics of movement. 

In 1977 he joined the staff of St Mary's Music School in Edinburgh, where he has been Head of Keyboard for the majority of his years there until his retirement from the post in April, 2014. He continues to teach piano and accompany the students.

(Interviewer's note: The history of piano technique to which I refer in the interview is "Famous Pianists and Their Technique" by Reginald Gerig.)

https://lnkd.in/efh7CaeB

When I Found Out I Was Neuroatypical - The Problem Solving Problems - Presentation 

The Problem Solving Problems

This is a discussion about how to solve problems, both simple and hard. After a life of solving problems with a neuroatypical brain, Adam goes into detail about his own journey in discovering what he perceived was his greatest problem and the surprising solution. 

The Video Summed Up 

1) Problem solving requires breaking a problem into comprehensible pieces (not too small, not too large) and then reconstructing the pieces into something that can be "carried."

 2) Sometimes the connecting element is bigger than the problem, seemingly unrelated. 

 3) After a lifetime of solving very difficult problems, Adam discovered that the connecting element was his neurodivergence. It both caused his difficulties and enabled him to persevere. Ultimately he was working on those problems to discover who he was and to learn to love himself.

 Adam is the producer of the YouTube podcast "TruerMU" and the Director of Willow Music in Atlanta, GA, as well as the Assistant Editor of the Feldenkrais Journal. Through his talks and workshops, he addresses issues of problem-solving and cognition in children and adults, offering concrete strategies for working through anxiety and adversity. Learn more about Adam at http://www.acole.net Help for Helpers Nov 20, 2023 For a transcript of this presentation, please visit https://acole.net/the-feldenkrais-method