Many years ago I was a piano major at Oberlin Conservatory. I was a very good student; not outstanding, but very good. And I very much wanted to study with one teacher who was undoubtedly the best. He'd take ordinary students and turn them into fabulous pianists. Finally I got my chance.
He taught with two pianos. He didn't even say hello. He just sat down at his piano and played five notes, and then he said, "You do it." I was supposed to play it just the way he played it. I played it—and he said, "No." He played it again, and I played it again. And he said, "No." We had an hour of that, and each time he said NO.
In the next three months I played about three measures, perhaps half a minute of music. Now I had thought I was pretty good; I'd played soloist with little symphony orchestras. Yet we did this for three months, and I cried most of those three months. He had all of the marks of a real teacher, that tremendous drive and determination to make the student see. That's why he was so good. And at the end of three months, one day, he said, "Good." What had happened? Finally, I had learned to listen. And as he said, if you can hear it, you can play it.
Charlotte Joko Beck, from Everyday Zen
Charlotte Joko Beck in Everyday Zen
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