Andrew Ingkavet

Andrew Ingkavet

Andrew Ingkavet believes that learning a musical instrument builds skills vital to success in life which has led to a thriving music school in Brooklyn, NY. Andrew supports music teachers with the Musicolor Method®, an online curriculum/training as well as 5 star-rated book, The Game of Practice: with 53 Tips to Make Practice Fun.

Vacations are just to get away from myself.

I love to travel and explore new places, but I’ve begun to notice something: each time I go away, I gain something.  It’s not just the usual rest, relaxation, and renewal.  That’s vitally important,  but it’s beyond that.  I gain some mental space,  I can think clearer, see my best options, and make better decisions.  I become my best self.

But it doesn’t have to be a big trip.  

Coffee shops, libraries, and hotel lobbies are some of my favorite places to write, plan, and get work done.  Why?  I started wondering about this.  Is it just the beautiful furniture?  The ambiance of the space?  The people?  What I’ve begun to realize is that I’m running away from my stuff!  

Have you ever rearranged the furniture in your home or studio?

I tend to do this a lot.  I feel better immediately with some arrangements.  

Wind and Water

When I lived in Hong Kong, I had a friend who was a feng shui master.  This is the ancient art of harmonizing with the physical environment.   Feng shui literally means wind and water.  As a musician, I have no trouble understanding harmonization!   Who wouldn’t want to be in harmony with their surroundings?   It works, but over time, I forgot about it.

This summer, I was sitting in a state park reading,  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying:  the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.  You may have heard of this book as it has been a NY Times best-seller.   

Metaphysically Speaking

As I read, I was intrigued.  Kondo is a bit wacky, and I like that.  She speaks metaphysically about objects and clothes.  If you’ve ever seen any films by the Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, then you will feel right at home.  Musicians are metaphysical too!  We believe in the power of sound and waves of energy even if we don’t fully understand it.

So here’s what I realized: you can access your best self from the outside in.  By decluttering and purging unnecessary stuff, you clear space physically, emotionally, and mentally.  It allows you to be the best you can be.

Each and every possession takes a little bit of our mental quota.  Have you heard of decision fatigue?  (I wrote an article about it here.)  It’s why they don’t allow presidents to order their own meals.  There’s a finite amount of decisions a human being can make each day.  It’s why Steve Jobs wore the same outfit every day.  It’s also the reason car salesmen wear you down with an overwhelm of options!

A 3-Step Process To Your Best Self

1) Purge your unnecessary stuff.  

Donate, sell, or throw it away.  If it doesn’t, in Marie Kondo’s words, “spark joy,” get rid of it.  “Letting go is more important than tidying…Being surrounded by things that spark joy makes you happy.”

2) Digitize papers and/or sheet music.  

Use a scanner or even your smartphone.

3) Organize.  

Don’t buy all the fancy bins and organizing tools, use your closets, shelves, and cabinets.  Kondo has a rule about storing everything vertically.  Even clothes.  She has a special way of folding clothes.

For digital organization, use Evernote, Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, or something similar.  See the guided tour of Dropbox below.

Depending on how much clutter you have, this process can be a weekend project or up to six months!  But it’s worth it,  soon your space will be reflective of the person you truly want to be.  Detoxing your home and/or workspace will also detox your body and mind.  

Clearing Space For Learning

Students and clients can also feel the difference.  By having a clean, clear, tidy space for learning, they can focus on the content, not the clutter.  It’s subtle, but clearing your space will free up energy for them as well.

I’m not quite finished with my detoxing, but already, I feel lighter, clearer, and happier.  It’s a surprisingly simple way to change your life and access your highest, best self.   If you feel overwhelmed during this process, take a break and listen to something like this.

“Laughter is an instant vacation.” – Milton Berle.

Recommended Reading and Resources

 

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A designer’s goal is to make experiences simple, intuitive and accessible.  It’s all about creating an effective user experience.  What if we could redesign music education? [···]

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“The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint
The greats were great cause they paint a lot

Ten thousand hours felt like ten thousand hands
Ten thousand hands, they carry me”

– 10,000 Hours by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

 

When I was a boy, I would spend the days reading up in a willow tree in my backyard.  It was my way of escaping to far-flung lands of adventure, mystery, and intrigue.

There just wasn’t much else to do.  And, I loved it.

Today there are so many other ways to spend our attention.

With our smartphones, we can instantly gratify any curiosity, itch or bet we have with a friend.  

It’s a blessing and a curse.

As a parent, I love the ability to “find my friend” and track my son’s location.

But this instant gratification has made a problem.  A problem of attention.  

With the lure of instant gratification, our attention has become shallow and scattered.  (Note the rise in cases of ADHD.)

In his book, Deep Work, Rules for Focused Success in A Distracted World, author Cal Newport states

“The Deep Work Hypothesis: The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.”  

Faster…But Is It Better?

To be a contributing member of society today, one needs to achieve mastery of multiple areas.  As the pace of innovation increases, we need to learn new skills, behaviors, and tools that didn’t exist a few years ago!   

And to do this, we need to learn “how to learn.”  We need to develop the muscle of concentrated focus.  It’s a skill that is not inherent.  Simply clearing away the noise is not going to make you a master of focus.  It’s a skill that needs to be cultivated, honed, and practiced.  

Catching Up With Prodigies

Perhaps because I was bored and lonely in my teens, I spent hours and hours practicing guitar. I felt like I had to “catch up” to all the other prodigies who started when they were 5 years old.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was engaging in the “10,000 hours” rule that Malcolm Gladwell describes in his fascinating book, Outliers – The Story of Success.

The basic idea is that it takes a long time, about 10,000 hours, to achieve mastery in anything.

The Art of Practice

Studying a music instrument is like a zen practice on the art of practice!  It cultivates attention skills required for deep focus.  In psychology terms, they call it deliberate practice: repetitive performance of intended cognitive or psychomotor skills.  

This is what will set apart anyone for future life success.

Deep work is not an inherent ability but a skill that needs to be practiced.

By the way, you can’t multi-task your way to mastery.  

Multi-tasking is not a real thing.  

Studies have shown that you are not actually doing more than one thing at the same time, but rather jumping between two or more things quickly.  This results in a slow-down and lowering of quality of attention.   So when you want to get things done, you need to go into the world of Deep Work.

Success in life is not about innate abilities/talent, but rather skills of focus, courage, action, and perseverance.    

As music teachers, we help foster these skills.  We become a factor in their life success.  We are coaches of practice.  Mentors of mindset.  Role models of focus and should embody the successful work ethic.

“My earliest memories of my father are of seeing him work at his desk and realizing that he was happy. I did not know it then, but that was one of the most precious gifts a father can give his child.”? Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

So I encourage you my fellow music teachers, to keep on keeping on, knowing you are more than just teaching someone to play a tune.  You are activating a person for life.  Carpe diem.

 

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