Tag Archives: learning

The Difference

Comparison with other people and things does no good most of the time. But I feel the need to make this comparison, just so I will remember what it is that makes this experience so different from my previous one.

As a student teacher, I felt immersed in an environment that did not stimulate learning. I did not feel motivated to learn, to improve myself. I was motivated only to ensure my survival from day to day, lesson to lesson. Maybe it was a combination of factors, and not just the environment. The people, the students, and my mindset at that time. But I remember feeling that it was a struggle to survive. A struggle to act so that I would not be marked down for classroom management. A struggle with the pressure to structure activities so as to ensure maximum (visible) engagement. I felt that there was no room for mistakes, and when I did make them, there seemed almost no room for negotiation. No one told me that it was ok to have a learning curve, no one told me that we can learn through mistakes and that we probably learn best through them. As a result I felt that if I could not fit into the system, I was/am not a good teacher.

As a student therapist, how different it is. Yes I’m aware that different factors may be at play – different people, different culture, different me, different industry. But I feel the difference. Especially when I get the message that it’s ok to not be perfect. That the end of the world doesn’t come just because we make a mistake, or because we don’t know how to do things right at our first try. Everyone is still very professional, of course, and everyone is expected to give their best. But it feels so much more affirming to have your best recognised, then told how you can improve from there.  I wonder how my journey might have been different if I had this environment when I did my first practicum.

But it’s all turned out for the best. Now I know what a difference a system’s culture and environment can make, and appreciate what I have now all the more because I did not have it before.

And the takeaway: Should I ever be given the chance again to mentor someone in teaching or maybe even in therapy, may I never let the person feel as I did in my first experience. We are only human, after all.

Vocal Improvisation

The human voice is known to be one of the most versatile, communicative, readily available and expressive instruments we have.

Ever since K became our lecturer this semester, she has been emphasizing on the power of the human voice and singing, making me realize that we should not underestimate its potential for therapeutic use and communication. In placements, E has also been a wonderful role model, applying various vocal and piano improvisational techniques for me to learn from.

This week, she said my next step would be to improvise on the piano AND vocally at the same time, which is particularly useful for communicating with clients like A.

At the moment, its like asking me to write with both hands at the same time. I would not be able to do both simultaneously, but if I hold on to one and concentrate on the other, something of compromised quality might come out.

I admitted to E that vocal expression is not my strongest area. I’ve always been happy to be in the background, to accompany instrumentalists and vocalists, to play in a group, to musically support, not lead. All these mindsets have been challenged ever since I stepped into therapy – in a good way. But vocal improvisation and expression has remained an area I still lack confidence in. E agreed, understanding as a pianist herself that we like to “hide behind the piano” (spot on). Her reply to my saying that I tend to think too much when I’m not confident touched me greatly: “I think you’re musical enough to just tune into the tonality, even if you don’t know what key it’s in… I don’t say this to everybody.”

I was reminded of what R said earlier this year about the elusive quality of musicality as well, and suddenly my mammoth was temporarily silenced. 2 professional therapists seem to imply the same thing – that I need to have more trust and confidence in my own abilities, work on projection, and apply them in a functional way. They must see something I don’t, or maybe not as clearly.

I am thankful to have wonderful supervisors to point out what I cannot see in myself, practical experiences to apply what I learn, the space to be less than perfect and improve from where I am.
This week’s practice regime will work on improvising pianistically and vocally at the same time, with as little mammoth presence as possible:)


If, just about 3 months ago, anyone had asked me: “What are you going to cook when you live on your own?”

I would have shrugged my shoulders. “I dunno… Maybe rice and soup and some vegetables?”

3 months later, I am learning that we are living in a global village, that YouTube is a wonderful teacher, and that pigs need not fly for me to learn how to cook and prepare nice food 😉

Striving on!

Just Another Lesson

Perhaps I need to get used to the idea

That  I don’t always need people to be pleased with me,

For me to be contented with myself.

I don’t always need to hear affirmation and praise,

For me to accept that I have done to the best of my ability.

I also need to understand that doing the right thing,

May not be the most popular thing,

And we will not always be able to please everyone.

A lesson as ageless as time, yet a trap I find myself constantly falling into, day after day.

And the lessons of life continue.