Learning to blow a new tune…


My 13 year old son wanted to try the saxophone. He has been playing the guitar for a while, and he wanted to ‘branch out’ – I think he reckons it looks and sounds pretty cool.

The new saxophone arrived, and playing it involves a whole series of skills he has never even considered before.  One of the biggest ones is how to get a ‘sound’ out of it by playing the instrument that has a reed!

His first attempt was unsuccessful.  He was OK with that.  He sought out some Youtube videos to try and get some ideas – so he could at least get a sound out of this lovely new instrument.  However, this still ended up if fruitless blowing – and no sound emerging!

We were having a chat about next steps for him (asking a teacher at school, or a mate who plays) before his lessons start.  He said something that was really profound:

“Its not that I’m doing it wrong, it is just something I haven’t learned yet”.

Think about this for a minute.  He has not assigned any ‘fault’ or ‘blame’ to the inability to achieve an outcome, but rather that it is a ‘learning process’ and there are steps that he has not learned, which preclude him from getting a result.

It is one of my favourite frames of reference, and I was very proud to hear him not only use it, but for it to be his reality.

How often do you see attempts to achieve something as ‘failure’ rather than a realisation that there is something extra that needs to be learned?

In clinical settings, this approach can be taken to a number of issues; for example:

>  Many people with anxiety have not learned the skill of evaluating risk, of developing positive expectations or believing that they have control over elements of their existence.  They have often not learned that answering the ‘what if’ questions they come up with deals rapidly with anxious thoughts.

>  Clients with depression often haven’t learned that things can change.  They often have not learned that the past does not predict the future, or that they can be allowed to have hopes and dreams.

>  People with addictions often have not learned impulse control of frustration intolerance.

In each of these cases, people can see their attempts to get a different result in their lives as ‘failure’.  However, if they took the saxophone playing approach – what haven’t they learned?

Using hypnosis is a powerful way for people to experientially learn, to build on their experiences and to explore strengths and resources which can support them achieving their goals.

Where are you stuck in your life?

What do you think would be useful to ‘learn’ for you to take your next step?

Because we all have the capacity to learn.  It is truly the only way to move beyond getting stuck.

(and I am sure that very shortly I will be needing to buy a mute for that Sax!)