Getting some lessons
by Rob Tiller
On Saturday morning I had another swimming lesson with Eric and worked more on my butterfly stroke. It’s a very different way of moving through the water, and not easy to get your head around. It surely does get the heart rate up. I can now do intervals of 50 meters without being disqualified or dying, which I consider an accomplishment.
While figuring out the butterfly, I’ve been working with Eric on refining my freestyle, breast stroke, and back stroke, which are all by comparison quite relaxing. It recently came into focus that swimming has always been for me a struggle — at bottom, a thing to do to keep from drowning. And now, finally, through the struggle to be a butterflyer, I’m finding it can actually be fun.
I’m sure I couldn’t have gotten even this far without a skilled teacher helping me. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: if you want to learn a complex skill, find a good teacher. There’s no substitute for having a guide in difficult unknown terrain. You may get to where you’re going without a teacher — now and again people do — but you’d have to be more-than-ordinarily lucky.
For this reason, I’ve continued getting lessons on the golf swing from Jessica at GolfTec, and had another this weekend. We talked about hips, shoulders, and wrists. Jessica knows a lot about the swing, and she also has helpful technology tools — sensors, computers, and video. I’m seeing improvement, both in my measurements and in how the ball flies, and I understand a lot more about how a good golf swing works. But it’s hard to change ingrained habits. When you fix one problem, you may create another. I’m starting to understand that although there is improvement, there is never perfection.
I was hoping to also have a piano lesson this weekend, but Olga said she was too busy. With a new baby, a full teaching load, and concert commitments, that’s understandable, but I was disappointed. Among other things, I’ve been working on Chopin’s famous Nocturne in B flat minor, Op. 9, No. 1, and I’m eager to get her take on it. Recently I had a minor epiphany that there would never be a point when her response to my playing would be: that’s perfect, and there’s no way it could be improved. In the great classical tradition there are always new possibilities and new things to be explored.