Wisdom for your soul (and your soles)

In our culture, we tend to be obsessed with time—with how long things take to accomplish and with how to speed up that process. I often hear evidence of this from my students, who ask me things like “How many Alexander lessons do I need?” or “When am I going to be able to sing a high G sharp?” or “Can you get me ready to audition on this song by next Tuesday?”

I’ve often given answers that evade the core issue, which is that learning is a life-long practice and will take the time it takes. No one wants to hear that with the big audition coming up next Tuesday. But I read something this weekend that brilliantly puts the time element of learning into perspective. It was a post from a blog about barefoot running on the Xero Shoes website and I liked it so much I’ve adapted it to my own purposes below by changing some key phrases, which I’ve put in italics:

“…to focus on how quickly or slowly you learn to sing is to miss the point. Singing healthily and enjoyably isn’t about whether it takes you a day, a week, or a year to do so. It’s about HOW you make the transition, not HOW LONG it takes to make it.

It’s about technique and function, not about seconds on the clock.

How long it takes for you to learn to sing is idiosyncratic. For some it takes no time at all because they already sing well. For others, it takes longer, since you’re learning a new skill—and different people learn at different rates.
But to focus on the amount of time it takes you to make the change is to put your attention on the wrong thing. If you believe that it’s just about putting in the hours until you’re suddenly a successful singer, you may never make the technique adjustments that will give you what you want.
On the other hand, if you pay attention to the correct things, the important things, to your sound and your technique… that could speed up your transition time dramatically. Pay attention to your sensations—if it feels constricted…try something different until it feels free.
Turn off the clock and turn on your awareness and you’ll be having fun singing in no time.”

(By the way, I ordered the “Amuri Cloud” minimalist shoes from the website where I found this insightful and well-written post. I’ll let you know how my training in running in them progresses.)

3 Comments

  1. Emma says:

    I would love to know how you are finding the sandals for running. I am deciding what sort of exercise shoes to buy.

    • Michael Hanko says:

      Hi Emma,

      I still absolutely LOVE my Xeros, although I am not running much at the moment, but use them as primarily as my go-to shoes for working out at the gym. My partner, Peter, who has been an avid long-distance runner for years, recently "re-converted" to Xeros after an initial calf injury brought on by getting too excited about these shoes and running excessive distances before he’d really gotten used to them.

      I found that my knees felt so much better when I ran in Xeros compared to when I’d run in more supportive shoes. But they require assiduous attention to form. You absolutely can NOT heel strike in these! Let me know if you’d ever like to do a lesson on running form, which is something I’ve done a number of times with other students, but never yet via Skype!

      Happy running, Emma!

    • Michael Hanko says:

      P.S. Do check out the blog on the Xero website, to which I’ve linked in my post above. There is a lot of good info there.

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