The Karate Kid and Bow Techniques -- Weekly Inspiration from Eric

Below you will find last week's Weekly Inspirational Blog Post.  I'm sorry that it wasn't posted for you to read on Friday, but sometimes life just gets in the way.  In this case, a business trip to Las Vegas and tech rehearsals for In Transit: #thisrocks kept us from getting this up at the usual time.  But the story in this post is so, so wonderful, that I think you will forgive us for our tardiness.  I hope you enjoy this tidbit from Eric, who shares with us how he has been truly inspired and motivated recently by his young bass students.  

Before I begin, I know that as you read this there may seem to be a level 'cheesiness' that you will have to endure, and I fully expect a few eye rolls. However, when asked for something inspirational that I have encountered in the past several months, I consistently keep coming back to my little bass students.

As teachers, especially those that have been doing it for quite some time, it happens, all too often, that we fall into the comfortability of repetition and along the way lose some of the drive and energy that we put in when we first started. It is an easy rut to get into and hard to break out of once it starts.

Recently, I started teaching several new Suzuki Double Bass students at Merit School of Music and the Music Institute of Chicago, one of which is pictured in this post. As a side note - there really is nothing more adorable than watching a little six year old carry their 1/16 size bass down the hall for the first time. Maybe it seeing this feat in person, or watching the lights brighten in their eyes every time they are able to learn something new about how to play their new instrument, but seeing those lights has been invigorating my own performance as well as my motivation for teaching. Kids at that age just soak ideas and concepts up like a sponge, and I have found that if you can find the relatable topics to associate with the concepts you are trying to convey, they will not only absorb, but they are more than willing to share how they were able to process the new information.

For instance, one of my students was wearing a T-Shirt of John Cena - and for those of you not immersed into the phenomenon of professional wrestling, he is one of their biggest stars - and after talking with him about Mr. Cena for a couple seconds I realized he was listening to everything I was saying with amazing intensity. I was trying to teach him a proper bow technique, and I drew a quick parallel from WWE to martial arts, and of course he was very interested. Well, it just so happens that Mr. Myagi from the Karate Kid (original version from the 80s) happens to teach amazing bow technique with his "paint the house" technique. I told him to go home and watch this movie with his dad, practice those techniques, and then try it using his bass bow. When he came back the next week his dad said that he watched the movie and practiced all week, and he even found some canvas and paints to practice with! When he picked up his bass and started playing at his lesson....wouldn't you know....he had perfect bow technique!! After class his dad told me that he liked the movie and was happy to practice, but when I really pulled him in was when I mentioned John Cena and said he was one of my favorite wrestlers too.

That motivated and inspired me in ways that I was not fully prepared. It has driven me to find commonalities with all of my students and has encouraged me to be a better teacher and a better player.

A very special thanks to all of my students - the future rock stars of the orchestra!