On one of my puppy walks, I was listening to the VocalFri podcast and heard USC vocologist and voice teacher Lynn Helding talk about the mechanics of learning to sing, and she said something I thought was really terrific:
Learning is messy – and dynamic
So I want to explore this some more. How is learning messy?
According to the site futurefocusedlearning.net, “messy learning” (i.e., non-linear, unguided, involving drawing your own conclusions) is essential for developing critical thinking. You might make mistakes along the way, but you learn from them. As Ms. Helding also said in the podcast, “It can be humiliating, it can be frustrating.”
Dynamic learning is also characterized by change, by growth, and by connecting the dots. The critical thinking developed in messy learning is a major factor in that learning being dynamic. They go together. It is the growth and the connecting of the dots that keep you going when you feel humiliated or when you are frustrated.
As a singer, as an artist, and as a human, you are a work in progress.
Your private lessons, your practice time, and your rehearsals are probably linear – you will accomplish X during Y amount of time – and guided by either a teacher or a director. But getting to X in the way that is planned might not be linear. Something might go in a different way than planned. What do you learn from this?
You gave a performance and you expected it to go one way and it went another way (good or bad). What did you learn from this?
As a singer, as an artist, and as a human, you are a work in progress. That progress is part of the dynamic. Continuing to progress means you might be uncomfortable or things might feel kind of messy for awhile.
Things that are neat and tidy are great for getting started on something, but eventually, you need to throw everything up in the air to see where it’s going to land. Albert Einstein said,
If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?
(Of course, I can find articles that say Einstein was WRONG, but I’d rather not.)
Embrace the discomfort and the messiness, because the energy that you get from messy learning will lead you to dynamic learning.