A significant part of training at the Conservatory is not just working hard but, more importantly, improving how to work so that development and breakthroughs are simply the byproducts of a self-sustaining artistic practice. At times, this meta-working process is quite heady and overwhelming. When I feel neck deep, I find wisdom in these words to work by:
First, advice from poet Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day to the answer.”
Second, John Cage’s “10 Rules for Students and Teachers”
RULE 1: Find a place you trust, and then, try trusting it for a while.
RULE 2: (General duties as a student) Pull everything out of your teacher. Pull everything out of your fellow students.
RULE 3: (General duties as a teacher) Pull everything out of your students.
RULE 4: Consider everything an experiment.
RULE 5: Be self-disciplined. This means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
RULE 6: Follow the leader. Nothing is a mistake. There is no win and no fail. There is only make.
RULE 7: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It is the people who do all the work all the time who eventually catch onto things. You can fool the fans–but not the players.
RULE 8: Do not try to create and analyze at the same time. They are different processes.
RULE 9: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It is lighter than you think.
RULE 10: We are breaking all the rules, even our own rules and how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for ‘x’ qualities.
Always be around.
Come or go to everything.
Always go to classes.
Read everything you can get your hands on.
Look at movies carefully and often.
SAVE EVERYTHING. It may come in handy later.