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Posts from the ‘Learning’ Category


10000-hour rule

Happy 2009 to all who has been following this blog!

As I have mentioned in my main blog, I am currently reading Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers: The story of success”. The central thesis of this book is that, while the impact of some form of innate talent is undeniable, it is still essential for these talented people to put in many hours of hard practic in order to make the next rank of “being someone”. Conversely, an “average” someone who puts in much more time into practicing than another person with more talent but less hard-working. This applies even for the well-recognised prodigy Mozart – for the reasons, go and read the book yourself! 😉

The magic number? Roughly 10,000 hours.

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Some quick reflections after the past two weekends of workshops with Hsueh-tze Lee and partly due to the short discussion we had on the approaches to learning.

For someone not having the luxury of “Tango immersion”, either in Buenos Aires or in the various Tango strongholds in Europe or USA, from a purely technical point of view, I like to imagine the learning process for Tango as a little bit like an onion. An onion has many layers. At the core, there are the basic philosophical principles. The next layer out will be some generic techniques. Finally we come to the outer layer of “style” that is usually the first thing people see.

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Thoughts on teaching

I recall a comment made by Andrea Misse in one of their group classes with her and Javier Rodriguez (J&A for short) during one of their visits to Singapore, perhaps sometime last year!?.

It was something to the effect that, when teaching group classes, they do not start with the intention of trying to completely replace a person’s pre-existing way of doing things. Instead, they try to complement and enhance what each one of us already has.

Consider this: by the time many of us who are outside of Buenos Aires took up Tango, it is likely that we had already been walking for a good 10-20 years, if not more, and therefore had developed our unique style. Good or bad, this is “us”. So, what is a visiting Tango teacher to do under the circumstances, given that walking (for social Tango) is such an integral element? Well, J&A’s approach as they said during that class is to try to add something on top of what we have naturally, rather than trying to eradicate everything and replace it with “Javier/Andrea memories”.

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Examples of mental imagery which I learnt during another wonderful round of workshops with Javier Rodriguez and Andrea Misse.

Feline walk, with feet caressing the floor. In fact, the sensation is very similar to what is described here, which is very relaxed and calm.

A quick tip that changed the my embrace in a matter of seconds: picturing that I am trying to embrace five people in one go.

Finally, my favourite (the context being men connecting with each other and respecting the space in line of dance, and ladies taking the opportunities to express herself):

“Men create the order; ladies create the beauty.”