Iron Sharpens Iron

Most of us have heard the idiom that "iron sharpens iron," and if you are a cello student of mine you have probably heard me say this more than once. Now before you open a new tab to Google fact check me, yes I am aware that during this modern age of science, typically iron is not actually used to sharpen itself. However, it will still remain one of my favorites for this reason:

Musicians often need accountability in order to achieve their goals. For many of my students, just the fact that they have to play each week for me when I may or may not have had my afternoon coffee is motivation enough. But for others, competition and positive peer pressure is more inspiring. This past February I decided to create a visual way for my students to not only keep tabs on their own progress, but on each others' progress as well. In my studio is now a dry erase board with each student's name, assignment, and the date it was assigned in a list form. Each cellist can now see what their colleagues are working on and how long it takes each one to learn a new piece of music. Although they have so lovingly nicknamed it the "Shame Board," the differences I've seen in their speeds of progress is pretty drastic. It seems to have helped create a kind of cello community, where we all can have positive effects on each other. Here are some ideas to help multiply your opportunities to encounter people that challenge you to be a better musician: participate in a music ensemble, go see a concert, find a practice buddy, or just befriend someone who is good at being awesome. It will rub off!