Sunday, October 20, 2013

Music Appreciation, Triathlon Appreciation

On Thursdays I've been attending my son's quartet practice. Spencer is in his sixth year of cello with the Virginia Tech String Project and Youth Orchestra. It's been such a treat to watch (and hear) his playing mature and witness his love for music grow. What has made this year extra special for me is to listen in as Alan Weinstein, cellist in the renowned Kandinsky Trio, teaches these four budding musicians to more deeply understand their music and their relationship to one another and to their instrument. They've learned about the subtle ways a quartet can work together, to hear the music and each other, to plan their bow use, and break down difficult measures. They have come to recognize the layers of the music and the dialog among instruments and the importance of properly timed rests! (That's my layman's interpretation of it!!)

Without Alan's guidance, the group would be playing mechanically, forming the notes individually but together. He has taught them how to think about their music, how to think about their role within the quartet, how to judge their own performance. I enjoy listening as he gives them the language, the thought processes, and the tools to more deeply appreciate and make the most beautiful music!

Of course this comes back around to triathlon and what I consider the vital role of coaches and experts to help us learn how to think about our training, how to think about our physiological responses, and how to judge our performance. Coaches know when we are ready to learn the next thing or to peel back another layer. They give us the language, the thought processes, and the tools to more deeply appreciate and make the most of our sport.

To outsiders, triathlon probably seems like just swim, bike, run. Simple. Do the sport! Play the notes! But we have learned that it is so much more. Primarily through my interactions with Coach Jim, as well as other coaches along the way, and things I read, I learn how to think more like an expert and less like a newbie.

Our developing understanding of the sport (or music) is a big part of what keeps us engaged. It's the ongoing learning process that keeps it interesting and coaches and experts provide a big leg up there.

Who knew there was so much to a quartet? Who knew there was so much to triathlon?

Oh, and by the way, Alan is a long-time road cyclist. I wonder what cycling has taught him about music and vice versa?