Being Italian, wooden spoons have been a big part of my life. It was always the tool of choice for cooking, and I remember wielding a wooden spoon to make sauce (yes, tomato sauce, not gravy - in my house). Nothing seems to work quite as well, not even those handy silicone spatulas that I can conveniently toss in the dishwasher. I have my favorite wooden spoons, some with wider bases for expert pot-scraping, some with longer handles to reach all the way to the bottom and not get lost in the sauce, and some that are just very important for sentimental reasons over the generations.
When we practice, it's often tempting to "let it rest," not wishing to unveil all the sticky clumps that are lurking at the bottom of our piece. It's certainly easier to not disrupt things - after all, the practicing pot is on simmer so it will eventually cook/be "done." There's a lot to be said for a slow and methodical approach, like a low simmer..but what about a pressure cooker, or induction burner, or other materials that speed up the cooking process to increase results in less time? Are the results the same? Different? How?
What is our go-to cooking technique for practicing? In our approach to life? Sometimes stirring the pot sheds new light on things...perhaps it's time to really scrape away and give things a good but careful mix. Are there practicing strategies we've shied away from because they're new, and therefore a little uncomfortable? Do we always begin our practicing session with long tones? With vibrato? Without? How can we stir the pot?
This morning in our Wednesday tone/tech class we went through a bunch of "standard" exercises we tend to go to and play a bit on automatic pilot. We purposefully were creative and changed things up together as a group, brainstorming and having fun bumbling through the challenging variations we were able to create. We made our neurons fire differently and although it was challenging it was completely engaging. The time flew by and we had fun!
I'd also like to add that in the larger picture, it takes mental, emotional, and physical strength to stir the pot...to invite change, and to make things "happen." Check out this great list (!) of things the mentally strong avoid. Here's to all the wooden spoons out there!
Put your chef's hat on and think about it. How often do you hesitate to stir the pot, both in the practice room and in general? What's keeping you from giving things a good swish, mixing everything up, and offering fresh and invigoratingly new perspectives? Be the wooden spoon and accept this throwdown: stir the pot both in the practice room and in your life, even just one small way - today.