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Potty Training and Getting Down to Business

Practice Challenge Update Week #3 of 20


7:45 AM: Soggy underwear.

8:17 AM: Despite the sprint to the toilet...no success.

8:36 AM: A tiny tinkle in the potty-YES!!!! Chocolate!! Stickers!!

9:05 AM: Discover toddler hiding behind a chair making grunting sounds and smelling foul.

Repeat the process for the next 12 hours.


My inner dialogue has been absorbed with the daily training efforts of awakening a tiny human to the signals of her body and then acting upon them in a culturally appropriate way. Violet does not enjoy this process. She hates being interrupted from whatever destructive toddler fun she's having in the moment. She runs away or yells "No, thanks!" from across the living room when I suggest that it's time once again to try a boring activity that she doesn't understand.

While the two of us disagree on the process as a whole, we both relish her success. Even the smallest of condensation receives an ecstatic happy dance, celebratory hugs, a little handful of M&M's and the unique opportunity to place a colorful sticker on a piece of scratch paper. In those moments, past and future are irrelevant. Violet and I share a mutual understanding of our roles: I coach and she literally gets the job done. It's a beautiful partnership.


This ongoing enterprise of effort and success carries into my teaching day. We're in Week 3 of a 20-week practice challenge and it's getting real. Even if you possess an intrinsic love of music like most of my students do, setting aside 100 minutes a week to practice isn't for the faint of heart. We're in full training mode. They know that what they are doing is hard. I can appreciate that their failed attempts don't have quite the same consequences that I experience as a Toilet Trainer, but pushing oneself can still be a messy process. I can't give them chocolate or stickers, but my musicians are finding their own rewards:

"I could hardly play that measure last week, now it's so easy!"

"My voice is more comfortable singing the high notes today!"

"I figured out a brand new way to play Fur Elise!"

"It makes me nervous, but I'm pretty sure I could perform in that music event I've never done before".


As it turns out, when we're pushed, we're all pretty good at getting down to business.


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