This summer will be my third year on faculty at the Luzerne Music Center. LMC is an international music intensive camp set in upstate New York’s Adirondack Park, with programs for students aged 9-18. Students have the opportunity to perform with the symphony orchestra, in chamber groups, and as soloists throughout the program. Students will also take part in daily chamber music coachings and weekly private lessons. Campers have the experience spending a summer outdoors; LMC’s program incorporates activities such as hiking, swimming in the lake, canoeing, and off-campus trips to Lake George and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (2017 included the NYC Ballet and Philadelphia Orchestra).

LMC is a hub for performances and masterclasses over the summer, including a residency by members of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Blair Bollinger (Bass Trombone of the Philadelphia Orchestra) directs the brass ensemble during the high school session. LMC faculty and guest artists are featured in concert every week of camp.

Please check out the website here for more information on the programs and faculty: http://www.luzernemusic.org

If you currently are or have a student in middle school or high school looking for a summer full of music and fun, LMC is the place to be! I am currently looking for two students for the 4 week Junior Session students (ages 9-14), and two students for the 4 week Senior Session (ages 14-18). Scholarship money is available!

Dates for 2018 are:

Junior Session: Sunday, June 17 – Saturday, July 14
Senior Session: Tuesday, July 17 – Sunday, August 12luzerne_location_036-1

Any questions, feel free to email me here. Thank you!
cpearlberg@luzernemusic.org

Sometimes, we can feel sad. It feels like nothing lines up, the world is constantly throwing up barriers in the way of accomplishing our goals. With the 24 hour news cycle, we hear of bad things happening more often than ever before. Good things usually don’t make good news, they aren’t very shocking. But that’s an interesting thought- if bad things are still “shocking”, wouldn’t that mean that good things are the norm, and are what are expected?

Telling yourself to be happy is never enough to fix it. Someone can lay out all the things you should feel grateful for and it still feels like you should be 5 years ahead of where you are, or that you missed out because of something out of your control. Just because you tell yourself something does not mean you actually absorb the information, or even believe what you are saying.

Pessimism is an easy road to go down. The more we associate with it, the more it seems like everything is awful. Every step we take forward is met by being pulled back into the abyss. Things are so interconnected that purity seems an impossible feat.

Optimism, on the other hand, is the only tool to forge ahead with. What are the chances you have ended up where you are right now? How many others get this chance? When will you get to do this over again? The reason why we build buildings and store our food in refrigerators is because the world, in its natural state, is a harsh place. Human beings are not designed to live in the freezing cold or extremely hot, yet we have made civilizations in these places, and have surpassed the basic need of survival. At its core, life is suffering.

Harsh not only in its natural state, the world can equally be as unforgiving in society. Who am I to do x? What if I fail? What if I don’t like it? What if I don’t fit in? All of these are problems we all face, to one degree or another.

If it was all bad, there is no way the world would be where it is right now. What is normal now was impossible just a generation ago. Yes, its not perfect, but thats the point. The meaning is in making it better.

Before you throw something out, or completely write something off, make sure you have exhausted all its possibilities. The tendency to throw away things that seem silly or redundant is understandable, but there also may be a reason why these things have lasted so long. Caricaturing the “other” side of things is easy; we want to boil things down to one or two tenets- its easier to write off that way!

In the process of purifying your thinking and processes, you may accidentally lose something fundamental. The wisdom of those who came before you is at your fingertips. If they felt compelled enough to make an effort to write it down, perhaps its worth considering.

Change is hard. Once goals are defined, the real work begins. Anyone can dream, but not everyone realizes those dreams. It is through the work that lessons are learned. Wisdom is not gained by being gifted success. Who we are when we start out, and who we are at a given point in the path to our goals can seem like completely different people. And that is the idea, how we execute the process, how we deal with adversity, that is what truly demonstrates our character. We are familiar with the feeling of not trying; by giving up we can end up back in this place. However, what is the feeling of continuing on, forever? To completely change yourself and become something different. Of waking up each day and continuing to hammer that nail. Becoming our best self. The only way to know is to push on.

 

And a Batman quote:

 

When you’re online and it feels like the world is small- just remember, only about 47% of the world’s population is connected.

There’s still a lot out there. The internet is a super useful tool, but it can also become an echo chamber. There are so many ideas, experiments, points of view, and experiences that are still inaccessible online.

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What may seem like the outer limits of your environment could be something you completely made up. Don’t allow the tool to control the user.

Learning is a long and tough process. It can be exhausting. Even when we find a subject or career we may see as “not work”, it still feels like work. We can love it and it can still be hard work. Common advice is “do what you love”, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be difficult.

The process of learning a skill or subject is a lifelong pursuit. However, we can see a clearer picture if we divide learning up into chapters. The four stages of competence are a useful tool when visualizing this:

1) Unconscious incompetence – We have no idea of the standard or any idea how to obtain the related skill set. We are completely unaware of our lack of ability due to the absence of metrics.

2) Conscious incompetence – We recognize we are not good at the skill set, and actively seek out how to improve. We fail, continuously in the pursuit of becoming better.

3) Conscious competence – We know the standard and we pretty much meet the standard, with hard work. Our knowledge is slightly ahead of our physical ability to perform a task perfectly.

4) Unconscious competence – The skill is second nature and does not require manhandling to execute. We think of the result we want rather than the process.

Number 1 is naive- “some people are just freaks!”. I wasn’t one of the lucky ones, those others have abilities that are impossible to learn. Wait, you mean through practice and diligent work, I can improve upon what things I already do somewhat well naturally? Or maybe its the “I am doing everything the same way as everyone else (or so I think), surely I will be successful!”. Everyone gets a trophy in the end, right?

Number 2 was the wake up call- maybe it is someone telling you that you are fooling yourself if you think you have some bragging rights to your ability. Maybe it was seeing someone else succeed when 3 years earlier you had determined them not to be a “freak”, therefore would not find success. Attempting to get past this point is can be the make or break for some people. You either see your lack of ability as motivation to learn more, or as a cue to do something else.

Number 3 and 4 are debatably very close, and perhaps interchangeable. In the case of a musician, #3 is when our ear, hearing the mistakes and knowing how things should be, is ahead of our physical ability to express those ideas. #4 is the ultimate, being able to perform with no hiccups in the execution or stress about the outcome. However, our “why” goals may change, which needs our “how” to change as well. Building one crude version of something is very different than building 100 finely made versions of them in the same amount of time. The process will need updating.

Though these stages are relegated to 4 steps, a mastery of a skill isn’t a instruction manual of Four Easy Steps to Acquisition. It is a constant process of tweaking and improvement. Not only is what we are pursuing as individuals evolving over time, but the world around us is also changing. You may not have a choice to change or update your skills; the world may need it from you before you “feel” like it. But, that challenge should give joy to the lifelong learner. The comfortable thing is to stick with what you know, but if we used that plan from Day 1, we wouldn’t have learned to tie our shoes.

Recognize where you are and keep going.

Time is our most valuable asset. We lose time with every passing day. Humanity continues to extend life expectancy, but time will still get the best of us.

How many hours a day do we waste? How many hours a day do we think about doing something to stop wasting this time, but end up distracting ourselves in order to stop thinking about it? How long will this last for? Who can I be if I use all of my being to be better? How can this betterment make not only my own, but the people’s lives around me better? How do we value our time? What are willing to do today that will pay off in the future?

Humans naturally want to avoid suffering, but the short cuts usually are just a distraction. The cost of dealing with suffering by applying temporary fixes is ultimately running out of time. By the end of our time, how will we look back on it?

If you want change, start with yourself.

 

Something that is tricky about the Internet is its permanence. The Internet may feel even more permanent than even our own memory; we can forget about something that happened long ago, but maybe Facebook brings it up 5 years later.

While we now have the tool to share anything at anytime, we have all seen plenty examples of how that may not always be the best idea. Putting yourself out there has its benefits and drawbacks: taking a risk and presenting something to the world can lead to criticism or praise….or both at the same time depending on who you ask.

It is easy to sit back and watch as others fail around you and judge their actions. It is easy to see this as an indication to NOT take risk, as it can mostly likely lead to failure and thus judgment from others. However, as Isaac Morehouse explains, the past isn’t written yet. Perhaps all your failures and “putting yourself out there” experiences will lead to an eventual success, but right now it seems really unlikely in your mind.

Letting yourself be crippled by the chance of being criticized is probably not worth the long term effects of never taking a chance to being with. Let your failures be a part of your eventual redemption; the people of the future will thank you for the good story.