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 Post subject: Re: Plateau and step up
PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:18 am 
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Nanohedron wrote:
bwat wrote:
A plateau is a period of no growth. That’s the common definition of the non-geological usage of the word. I would venture that I’m not alone in considering finding oneself at a plateau to be negative. I do not progress by standing still.

Oh, I am quite confident that others must surely share your opinion. No question about that. It's a natural one. What I am suggesting instead is that an apparent cessation of growth may not be as cut-and-dried as you see it. Especially if the student is motivated, there's always stuff roiling and going on underneath, not unlike inside a chrysalis, if you don't mind the sappy analogy. I do think that the plateau period has its place in the process, and that is as a honeymoon period, if you will, where you really get to know what you've advanced to. You can't know all of what's new at the first handshake.

But I also think that seeing a plateau as something to get out of is necessary, too. Otherwise one will become complacent, and stagnate.


I’m being a bit presumptious here so I apologise if I misrepresent you. I think that you are measuring progress as seen from an external witness. This honeymoon period, which may be the period of consolidation you mentioned above, to me is not a plateau. There is work being done here and progress is being made, albeit internal and not detectable from the outside.

If progress comes only after a change in practice routine, or possibly a genuine change of attitude, then you were in a plateau.


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 Post subject: Re: Plateau and step up
PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:27 am 
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Well, yes. We've already established that there's a point where the plateau moves from consolidation to stagnation. I never once disputed that. But sometimes things have to start really stinking before you move on. There's no one knowable way to stimulate growth in the matter of a discipline. Who knows; even hearing a drop of water might make you go, "Aha!". All I'm saying is that if you're eating yourself up with distaste and regret, maybe it's better to buck up and instead spend your energy learning a new tune. That, at least, is productive in the meantime.

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"I remain not entirely convinced of it." - Nano


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 Post subject: Re: Plateau and step up
PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:44 am 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Well, yes. We've already established that there's a point where the plateau moves from consolidation to stagnation. I never once disputed that.


I would dispute it. A plateau is an object of thought, inanimate, not capable of moving. The plateau would be the stagnation - consoldation is an act so we can assume a successful outcome changes the practitioner. You can maybe tell I think plateaus are often misdiagnosed. That’s my theory anyway.

Nanohedron wrote:
But sometimes things have to start really stinking before you move on.


Yes, all change is a result of a lack of success - for us rational types at least.

Nanohedron wrote:
All I'm saying is that if you're eating yourself up with distaste and regret, maybe it's better to buck up and instead spend your energy learning a new tune. That, at least, is productive in the meantime.


I’ve only caught myself stagnating because I doubted my abilities - oh I’ll never play this, lsten to how good that sounds on the CD. I soon get a grip though and attack it anew.


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 Post subject: Re: Plateau and step up
PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:35 pm 
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bwat wrote:
Yes, all change is a result of a lack of success - for us rational types at least.

Ignoring the scathing implication that I am irrational, I assure you that things are not always so black and white. :wink:

I agree that dissatisfaction is a driver for change, but it must be pointed out that the route from A to B is not always straightforward. Sometimes change occurs spontaneously regardless of our strategies. Dissatisfaction with one's playing is a normal undercurrent (and I think a healthy one, when not taken to extremes), but we do not always know the best direction; good advice can be incompletely understood or even wrongly interpreted, and that means we continue to apply that misunderstanding until change lets us see it for what it is. An adequate superficial result doesn't mean we're doing things in the best possible way. For example, my embouchure was working well, yet I still wasn't satisfied with it, but I couldn't say why; after all, it was working, right? That's success by any measure. Then after many years I had a breakthrough, but it had nothing to do with any direct, guided effort on my part. It just appeared one day and settled in as if on its own, and it was significant enough for me to take notice and be thankful for it, because it was clearly a major and satisfying improvement that I could replicate without fail, and with ease. It was clear that my old approach - which admittedly worked, in its way - was now to be discarded. Some people have a problem with discarding an approach, mainly due to the investment of time and faith they've put into it. It's personal for them, because they don't want to give up what they see as hard-won. My perspective, however, is that if one is really committed to improvement, it's better to regard one's methods and accomplishments, no matter how good they are, as provisional. Now, I had assumed that my usual embouchure up to that point was probably as good as it was going to get, so I wasn't even working on embouchure in any goal-driven sense at the time. Rather, the new embouchure just happened spontaneously - in a natural ripening, if you will. It's not unusual for changes to be like this; they can happen from subconscious workings that we are not aware of, or maybe even simply on their own, apropos of nothing in particular. It's entirely rational to suggest that I could lay no claim to any credit for the change. As you might guess, I have a great interest in the process of learning, but sometimes the nuts and bolts of it are very hard to pin down.

In any discipline, you cannot have change without effort. That is axiomatic. But I have also found a paradox: While effort is necessary, it can't be depended on to directly make the change, or even account for it. Change sometimes comes at you sideways, and might even be unlooked-for. My embouchure story is a perfect example, because while it's easy to assume it would have been due to past work, simple cause-and-effect doesn't hold water since the new way bore no resemblance whatsoever to the sort of efforts I had been making for years, in what was essentially the opposite direction; I had no prior experiential point of reference to the new approach. It was a complete departure from everything I was habituated to, so I can't say that my previous efforts had anything to do with it - at least anything you could point to. That's why I say one can't depend on effort to be a direct agent of the result, or at least the result you had in mind. But one must make effort all the same, because without it nothing happens, and everyone knows that. It's a mysterious equation.

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