Ps and Qs Education

Practice makes perfect

Accomplishing a bit every day, and putting in check points for self-evaluation can go a long way in ensuring our practice brings us close to perfection.   | Photo Credit: Freepik

The hum of the tampura fills the morning air with hope. The sounds from this beautiful Indian classical musical instrument set the tone for the peaceful, yet rigorous flow of musical notes that demand focus, discipline and repetition. My music class is in progress.

I have been a student of music for a while now and what I have learnt, over the years, is that practice makes perfect. Of course, that practice is key to mastery over new skills isn’t new knowledge. In the course of our professional and personal lives, we have all realised that the more we practise something new, and difficult, the easier it becomes to master it. Yet, learning music has been bringing some unique perspectives to the way I approach the concept of practice.

Perseverance matters

The words ‘riyaz’ in Urdu or ‘sadhana’ in Sanskrit mean disciplined and structured practice under a teacher’s guidance, in the context of music. My guru spends nearly six months on a single composition, ensuring I learn every nuance. As part of the riyaz, I repeat the notes till we are both satisfied. But he also gives me enough space and freedom to do this at my pace, without feeling pressurised. All the while, he gently nudges me along, giving me confidence whenever I need it. This is what makes him a great guru. And every session ends with “Keep practising”.

This experience holds within itself a great lesson for me: how to grow as a professional, as we learn a new skill through practice; and how to enable and empower teammates through their practise-and-perfect journey. When learning to sing, especially if it happens to be a tough composition, it is first important to acknowledge that it will take time and effort. Overlooking this and rushing to perform that song may not only be a mistake, but may also frustrate and lead to burn out. Pacing it out and taking time with the riyaz is critical.

Once, when I was disappointed that I couldn’t get a particular note right, my guru reminded me that it was okay to not get it right the first time. He gave me the confidence and encouraged me to keep trying, while setting high standards for me to aspire to.

The same holds true for our work situation too. While speed is important today, it cannot be at the expense of quality. And this is where riyaz’s rigorous and focused approach is handy because it helps us build expertise in a concentrated manner with the time it demands — without shortcuts. We also owe it to our colleagues to understand their pace, challenges and strengths. Recognising this and encouraging them as they practise their skills and knowledge will help establish a healthy and collaborative environment.

Another aspect that can help in productive practice is understanding and identifying the nuances and complexities of a new task. If we are responsible for a team’s success, this becomes especially imperative, as we will need to guide our team and set micro goals in the practice-perfect-accomplish path. In music, I have seen how my teacher doesn’t stop with helping me with the basics. He explains the intricacies that connect each note. The practice sessions then become ways to get those intricacies in place. The way I see it, these intricacies that riyaz helps us perfect are the unexpected twists and turns, the nuanced complexities of a new project or task that faces a team in the workplace. In such scenarios, a leader can help by showing how to master those complexities, without making them too dependent on her.

Accomplishing a bit every day, setting a timed routine for practice and guided learning, and putting in check points for self-evaluation can go a long way in ensuring our practice brings us close to perfection. Whether it is riyaz, sadhana or focused repetition, practice will help no matter which domain we are trying to grow in.

The author is a writer and literary journalist. She also heads Corporate Communications at UST. Views expressed are personal. @anupamaraju

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 6:04:24 PM |

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