What if we wouldperform a learning event as music session?

© nanadia

I was listening to a podcast that made my thoughts wander. It was an interview with Lucas Niggli, the ‘dreamer at the battery’ (Lucas Niggli, der Träumer am Schlagzeug, SR DRS, Reflexe, 4.3.2012).

Niggli is drummer, bandleader, composer, project leader and networker, and a hard worker. I was fascinated by how much practicing he does, how meticulously he prepares his concerts and how at the moment of performance on stage he leaves all the preparatory work behind to improvise and perform freely. My ears were wide open listening to him explaining his way of working.

His composing is based on intensive preparation, studying and practising, practising, practising… This preparatory work is taking place long before a concert. Driven by curiosity he exposes himself. He explores new tunes by playing with new people, in first hand formation, with musicians he meets by chance. He collects, studies, writes first music pieces; then he tries these etudes out, practises and rewrites them. By practising he wants to break his habits, his automatism and routines. He brings this collection of basis material to the rehearsal and jointly with his band they play through it, rework it and create anew. They retreat to intensive music playing to jointly make the big step forward. They co-create, go deeper, get lost, expand the limits and enter into new music-worlds.

On stage performing with his band they invent the music anew. They tell a story in real time. They leave all behind and play in the moment. Now it’s definitely a collective product. The preparatory work, the compositions, the practising is all there somewhere in their imaginary ‘backpack’.

What inspires me most is the thorough and iterative preparation process. This constant search for mastery and getting closer to the breakthrough has triggered my attention. It’s never finished, it’s never ending, it’s as perfect as possible in that moment.

What if we would approach our workshops and learning events like that?

We would prepare ourselves long before by collecting our thoughts, stories and observations. We would jot down first ideas, explore different options, and make first prototypes. We would meet for preparatory workshops each bringing in hers/ his stories, ideas and discoveries. We would pick up the different threads, create jointly new prototypes and “play” our products. We would leave for learning journeys and expose ourselves to expand our perspectives and perceptions. And finally we would come together for the workshop, seminar, learning event where we would weave our insights and learning together to create jointly something new, deeper, unknown.