Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers recently played in Vancouver. The local weekly, The Georgia Straight, reviewed his concert rather negatively because he apparently played too many new songs (off his latest album) and not enough familiar hit oldies.
The following week, a letter to the editor echoed this complaint, writing, “Could rock promoters adopt some kind of mercy rule to the effect that old rockers can’t play more than three songs in a row from their new album?”
On one hand, I totally empathize. We all want to hear our favorite groups play their old hits: Songs to which you can sing or hum along. Songs that made a difference in your life.
On the other, I respect groups that don’t rest on their past hits and instead keep generating new stuff. I feel the same way about novelists who keep writing (long after critical acclaim) and professors who keep researching and publishing (long after tenure). Why should one go soft after success?
Refining versus reinventing: What’s your teaching style?
The Tom Petty complaints made me consider yoga teaching:
My teacher once mentioned that some teachers find an effective way to teach an asana and stick with it throughout their careers. Others are always experimenting; despite the classic “rules” in the Iyengar system, there are many ways to teach the same pose. Neither style is better or worse, she said; it depends on the teacher’s personality.
Creative types might get bored with teaching the same sequence year and year. By trying new sequences, they keep themselves fresh and engaged, avoiding rote teaching. That said, if one finds a great way to prep a challenging backbend, why abandon it merely to avoid repetition? One can refine, rather than reject, a particular sequence. After all, aren’t we still following Mr Iyengar’s longstanding instructions in Light on Yoga?
Perhaps teaching yoga by traditional, established methods (which are not static either, of course) is akin to cooking by classic culinary methods. It takes one type of talent to evolve and innovate—and another to master and refine the basics. While all teachers do both, most gravitate in either direction.
Perhaps the main thing is not to get stuck in a rut. It’s a copout to stick with tried-and-true methods, blithely repeating songs, recipes, or asana sequences to avoid real thinking.
Image: Wikipedia, Tom Petty