October 13, 2020
There is a pretty universal saying that “Practice Makes… [and we all fill in the blank] Perfect.” Ed Varner, Ed.D., argues that improvement, not perfection, should be the goal in the creation of art, in education, in work, and in everything that we do. He explains what he calls The Practice and how this approach is the application of his belief that music has value for EVERYone.
I recently came across the work of today’s guest, and one thing that immediately resonated with me about his work was his holistic approach to education and music. I’m thrilled to have Dr. Edward Varner joining me today. Dr. Varner has been an educator, musician, actor, and arts education specialist and advocate for more than 30 years. He has taught award winning K-12 programs in California, Nevada, and Washington; he’s presented workshops for groups including the National Association for Elementary School Principals and the National Association for Music Education. He is currently in his ninth year as the Director of Visual and Performing Arts for the Milton Hershey School in Hershey, PA.
- Article: Perfection is a Myth, but Improvement is Always Possible
- Varner says:
- “By suggesting that perfection might be achievable if we only try hard enough, or practice in a better way, we are condemning ourselves and our students to failure.”
- “Perfection is a myth. Improvement, on the other hand, is always possible and should be the goal of our practice. Improvement should be the goal in life, in education, in the creation of art, in work and in everything that we do. None of us are capable of ‘perfect.’ We are all capable of improvement.”
- “As an educator, I have always been a firm believer in the philosophies of integration and differentiation of curriculum to better meet the needs of students. I must know my students in order to adequately and effectively meet them where they are and help them progress to the next level. This philosophy of knowing your students necessitates the added element of care. Educators must care for their students, themselves, and have the fortitude to continue caring when it appears that others have surrendered.”
- “When we are resolved to engage in The Practice ourselves, we seek out self-improvement for the sake of others—an altruistic intention.”
- “By seeing ourselves and others as equally striving for improvement and then switching the emphasis from our own aims to the needs of others, we create powerful learning opportunities for every person we have the good fortune of working with.”
This is what Dr. Varner refers to as The Practice:
- The Truth
- Symptoms: There will always be difficulties and challenges.
- Cause/Diagnosis: There will always be an identifiable cause of these difficulties and challenges.
- Prognosis: There is a way to alleviate these difficulties and challenges.*
- Prescription: There is an identifiable path to end these difficulties and challenges.*
*The last two “truths” present an opportunity for improvement and growth. Remember, perfection is a myth. Improvement, however, is always possible and should be the goal of our practice.
- The Path
- Right View and understanding: Seek knowledge about what practice is needed and understand how to manage it. Keep a positive outlook.
- Right intention and resolve: Resolve to pay attention, to seek information, and empower yourself with persistence and grit.
- Right Speech: Avoid negative self-talk or premature judgements. Seek clarity of understanding and knowledge that will strengthen your practice.
- Right Action: Make time, self-monitor, and seek advice of others working to improve.
- Right Livelihood: Avoid unhealthy habits, surround yourself with positive people and actively pursue success.
- Right Effort: Remain sincere with your efforts. Control your thoughts by being careful to nurture and develop good habits while letting go of bad habits.
- Right Mindfulness: Be conscious or aware of what you are doing. Stay in the moment.
- Right Concentration: Practice. Focus. Manage your stress and don’t be too critical of your efforts. Remember, improvement is the goal, not perfection.
- Dr. Varner email
- Text – 406-788-2743
- Facebook: @eddievarnermusic
- Twitter: @varner_edward
- Instagram: @varner.percussion
- Speaker Hub
- In Ep. 48, we talk to a time management coach who gives tips for making your we’re-all-at-home family schedule work for you, when it comes to practicing musical instruments and also other chores and goals. This episode was originally geared toward making the most of your family’s time over the summer, but with the continuing home-based nature of school this fall, the information is just as applicable now as it was in the summer.
- If you’re missing the traditional start of the NHL season, you can get your hockey fix with Ep. 10 on the role of organ music in hockey. In that episode we also discuss how fans can connect with and make song requests of their favorite sports organists (hockey AND Baseball organists)
- And if you have a child in music lessons, you may be interested in Ep. 28: My CHILD is taking music lessons; what’s MY role?