April 2, 2016

Curiosity & Certainty

When I began researching historical vocal pedagogy about 15 years ago, it was with one particular organizing principle that I could only articulate much later: I wanted to know how old Italian school teachers taught and what they did in the studio. Time travel not being possible, I began research not knowing how to research. But excellent librarians helped me, their generosity being quite humbling. 

This process—one of curiosity—lead me to something much bigger: a body of knowledge. I began to see patterns within the material I found, which—I almost hesitate to say—often felt like it was finding me. Fiction writers talk about characters speaking in their own voices, even dictating to the writer what should be written, and it's true. An odd sensation perhaps, but a very real one. And though hard to explain, I've had too many moments where I felt the urge to go digging, not really knowing what I was looking for—perhaps only having a name to go on and then finding gold—to pass off the still small voice as mere coincidence. 

This is where certainly comes in. You have to follow what that still small voice tells you to do even if you don't—objectively speaking—believe it. You have to act on it. Because, if you don't it's going to stop talking to you.

(Cynics can't learn anything because the only thing they hear is the chatter in their own heads.)

So the first rule—if you can call it a rule: Get quiet and listen. 

The second rule is: Act on what you 'hear' even if you don't understand it. Call it intuition or your brain sorting out cues from your environment, it doesn't really matter. You will find what you need to know. Then, with enough patience and persistence, you will figure out how to use that knowledge.

Connect enough dots and you'll see a picture. 

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