I have always wanted to learn how to play the guitar. I LOVE to sing (the fact that I don’t do it well doesn’t stop me) and feel deeply moved by music in general.  I have always been envious of those who could sit down with this very portable instrument and experience the way sound can flow through the musician, as if the music is actually in control and the human is just along for the ride.  So after years of envy, I finally decided to do something about it and began taking lessons.

And guess what?  It’s HARD!  My fingers feel like an uncoordinated jumbled mess and the messages that seem so CLEAR coming from my brain are entirely UNCLEAR once they reach my fingers. It’s frustrating and tedious..and it’s AWESOME! While extremely incremental and painfully slow, I am improving little by little.  Each correct scale or chord feels like such a triumph and makes me want to keep practicing, keep working at it and keep getting better.

Yes, I always wanted to learn to play the guitar but there’s another reason I’m doing this. I want to be faced with something that is very hard for me, yet push through and do it anyway. I want to observe my attitude and my growth and reflect on my successes and failures. Students are faced with this opportunity all the time but adults less so. I want to be in our students’ shoes and see what I can learn from the experience.

Each year, the HDS staff takes on a theme of study for our professional learning and we visit it frequently throughout the year. This year we have been learning about the ideas of fixed and growth mindset, based strongly on the work of Carol Dweck and her team at Stanford University.  The essence of a growth mindset is believing that skills and talents can be developed. What I am learning from my guitar experience is that effort is one route to learning, but in and of itself will not create a growth mindset. I first need to believe I CAN do it and work to find ways up, down and around the problems and obstacles that arise. I need a great teacher who can help me develop my skills. I need feedback and failure and I need practice…lots of practice.

Of course, I also need encouragement. So if you see me in the hallway, ask me how my guitar is coming along, and tell me to stick with it.