Help—I’ve forgotten my lesson!

One of my overseas students, John, whom I’ve been teaching online, recently requested that I allow him to record his lessons. He was concerned—this is a common fear among students—that he would otherwise forget the details of what we did in his lessons.

From taking voice lessons myself, I am familiar with that sinking feeling when I get home and can’t recall much about what happened in a lesson other than a sweet but rapidly fading impression that some very good singing had come out of me. I have come to realize that this worry—as well as the desire to grasp ahold of each detail of learning for safekeeping—are just aspects of my mind. I now notice these thoughts and let them be.

Here’s what I told John in response to his request:

John, I’m going to give you two seemingly contradictory answers to your recording request:
  1. Sure, it’s easy for me to allow you at the click of my mouse to record your lessons to your own computer. I appreciate your not sharing the recordings beyond your own use. We can start this next time.
  2. Your intellectual brain might feel that you are not remembering the lessons, but your system registers everything and you would be completely fine never recording a lesson. I have not recorded any of my lessons in decades—nor have I practiced what we did in those lessons between the lessons—and I have consistently improved and am currently singing at an extremely high level. It seems like magic, but deep learning happens when we are truly there (not in our thoughts) for the learning experience.

Just paying attention during your lesson is all that is required. You don’t need to revisit the experience later, even in your thoughts. Let the past be in the past and keep bringing your awareness to the present moment of your life.

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