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jake kot

Editor's Notes

Strengths vs. Weaknesses

jake kotAs of late, I’ve been working on a new project called Applied Imagination. I’m giving two hour seminars on the topic of Creativity. My need to bring this up is not centered on boasting about my latest endeavor, it’s about sharing a quote that I discovered while putting my program together that I feel is relevant to any artist on the path to discovering how to get to that infamous “next level”. It is written by the author Howard Gardner, out of his book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences…as follows:

“The people we most admire are smart in certain ways. The question is not ‘How smart are you? It’s How are you smart”?

Let me paraphrase that to make a point from a musical perspective I feel worth sharing. In the all consuming question, what should the focus of my studies be centered on, consider this: Instead of purely focusing your attention on your weaknesses, and how to take care of them, why not consider focusing on what your good at, and getting better at it.

Due to our long set (and outdated in my opinion) educational process, we’re more or less trained and persuaded to put the center of attention on our weaknesses—the bad grades per se. I’m not necessarily condemning that approach as much as I’m concerned with that becoming where the majority of one’s time is spent on their studies. There “has” to be a balance. Not spending equal time developing your strengths is in my best judgment counter-productive.

This is most assuredly tricky territory. Part of any instructor’s obligation to their students is to continually present those weaknesses in our makeup, but without there being at the very least equal time delegated to enhancing our personal, and I do want to emphasize personal strengths, I don’t feel any of us would be actually seeing the true progress that we are capable of, which brings me to agreement with Mr. Gardner’s quote.

Have a different opinion? Please write back. Discourse is truly at the heart of any learning process, and I welcome it. I hope at best, I at least got you “thinking”…then I’ve done my job.

Best,

Jake Kot

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