I went on an adventure this week. I did my first recording session with my cello.
Me and one of my best friends went to my “power place,” this magical, beautiful tunnel in Central Park covered in beautiful mosaics that has amazing acoustics. We purposefully went late at night so it would be quiet.
Walking through the park, I saw that a film shoot was set up next to the tunnel, with this huge floating dirigible light and all this film equipment. And I was afraid that they would kick us out or tell us to not make any noise.
I thought, OK, well, the worst thing they can do is tell us to stop. So we went down into the tunnel, and I said out loud to my friend that my intention was for both us and the film shoot people to peacefully do what we needed to do without disturbing each other.
I had brought some special gluten free pastries, and before we started recording, we sat and ate our dulce de leche eclairs. My friend observed that she felt like a queen in a beautiful palace, and I had to agree. I felt like we were queens, too.
After our little pastry feast she set up the recording equipment and I started playing. My intention was to record my own original material, and then two covers of me singing with my cello, which is scary and new for me.
It was totally magical. My friend took care of all the recording details, and she even did this amazing spontaneous backup harmonies. Which really made me feel like a badass, to have backing vocals!!
Somehow, the movie people right outside the tunnel were utterly silent, and didn’t bother us at all.
They even shone a spotlight down into the tunnel, which looked and felt amazing to be illuminated like that.
At the very end, for the last song, I was like, what the heck.
I turned to my friend and I said, “Please promise me you’ll still be my friend no matter what you think about what I’m about to do. This is hot off the press and I feel really vulnerable sharing it.”
Then I played what I know is the next level for me – the most exciting, and the most scary thing of all – which is to sing my own original material.
Afterwards, my friend said, “That was gorgeous! Who wrote that??” And I was so excited and gratified that I jumped up and down.
I told her, “I wrote that. This is the first time I’ve ever sung a song I created myself in front of another human being. And I’m so glad I got to sing it in front of you.”
Can I tell you a secret? Recording myself used to be one of the things I dreaded most in the entire world. Listening to recordings of myself playing would rip my belief in myself to shreds. It was so completely stressful for me – a lot like how math used to be completely stressful for me.
How the heck did I get from that place, to where I am now? How do you get from a place where you’re completely struggling, ashamed, in tears, stressed out of your mind, to feeling confident, spacious, and like a queen in your own beautiful palace?
I am still in the process of figuring this out, but here’s what I think it’s about.
Stake out your own territory. If you’re in a really agonizing classroom or math learning experience, you have to stake out your own territory, outside of the awfulness of what you’re currently experiencing. You can’t keep dwelling exclusively inside the “meltdown/panic” zone of what’s currently being offered to you. You have to create a new space for yourself outside that experience, because that meltdown/panic experience isn’t going to give you what you need to move forward.
For me with my music, this meant exploring territory completely outside the classical world, learning how to play by ear, traveling to Cuba and Bali, even taking acting classes. For me with math, this meant learning how to take things apart, go slow, find my own way of understanding. With my clients, in our tutoring time, we very purposefully create a new math zone where math is comfortable, enjoyable, and meaningful, no matter what’s going on in the classroom.
Do it your way. If the way you’re being taught or trained doesn’t work for you, it’s not the only way. So much of the way I was taught and trained in the classical music model made me feel so awful about myself and didn’t help me create good work. “My way” happens to be performing in a beautiful mosaic-ed tunnel next to a fountain with an angel on top.
Same thing with math. You can do it your own way, relying on your own strengths, your own fascination and creativity. With my clients, we find ways that really work for each individual so they can start to experience math as a source of joy and strength, even a way to express themselves creatively.
Surround yourself with true companions. That evening of recording in the tunnel was so magical. And at the end I told my friend, wow, it felt so effortless. But I know so much of it had to do with the fact that I picked my recording engineer – my friend who came with me to record – so very carefully. Not only is she one of my closest friends and an amazing musician, but I had also sang to her as an audience member in the tunnel over the summer, and I already knew I felt so comfortable and safe with her, and encouraged, even when I was doing the most vulnerable thing musically that I’ve ever done.
Having her there with me completely transformed the experience and made me feel so strong and safe. And this also happens in my work with my math tutoring students – finally having a true companion, a truly matched math mastery mentor, allows them to completely transform their relationship with math, and even with life.
Are you ready to have a true math companion who will support you in transforming your relationship with math from agonizing to euphoric? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you started with my special application to explore whether or not my magical math tutoring programs would be a fit for your family!