You know what it’s like. You’ve got yourself settled, in a regular pattern, and you’re happy. Everything is fine. You know where you stand. You don’t know everything, but you are content with what you do know and not bothered by what you don’t know. You and the world are getting along fine.
Then something changes, and it all goes to pot.
If you’re reading this and thinking “hey, nothing’s changed in my life recently, I don’t know what you mean”, I apologise. In that light, allow me to give a couple of examples from today.
This afternoon I had my first cello lesson. No, not as a student, as a teacher. I had been contacted through the Classical Music Society at the University of Essex, as a student there was looking for cello lessons. I had originally said that I wouldn’t take absolute beginners, as I’ve not got any teaching qualifications, nor experience of teaching, and would prefer not to have to cover the basics (mainly because I struggle sometimes to remember what’s basic and what’s intermediate). However, I ended up giving someone their first cello lesson this afternoon, and it didn’t go as badly as I was expecting.
We had some issues to begin with, mainly the fault of her cello. She’d only had it a month, and by the looks of it the strings hadn’t been tightened recently. As I tried to tune it up the A string snapped, so I had to donate a spare of my own. Then there were all sorts of problems with the other strings not lying properly and causing all sorts of problems, and I ended up restringing the D and G strings too. Then the bridge needed adjusting because it was falling off, and once I’d got everything aligned properly we then had to patiently wait while the strings settled – now that they were under tension they were stretching and going out of tune quickly, and I spent a good half hour getting the cello to the point where it was playable.
My student was a complete beginner, and I had to go right to the basics of what notes were, how many beats there were in a bar, that sort of thing. It was quite a struggle for me, going back to stuff I learnt when I was 5. We got there eventually though, and she managed to play through some simple pieces in the beginners’ book she had brought with her. Almost all open strings, pizzicato, but still a challenge for someone with hardly any musical experience. She did very well though, and has got plenty to practise at home. I was also pleasantly surprised at how well I did. I had always put off teaching the cello because I thought I wouldn’t be very good at it, but today made me wonder whether I should look into teaching cello properly.
Then, as if that wasn’t revelation enough for one day, a friend of mine told me about the Internet World conference next spring, and how they were looking for speakers. My friend encouraged me to submit myself for a talk, saying I would be good at it. I instantly thought it was a bad idea, as I’m no authority in the world of the web, and have no experience of talking at such big conferences. However, the more my friend badgered me the more I came to realise that maybe I do have something to offer after all. I may not be the best in my field, but I do have a wide range of experience in a particular target group, and could probably say some useful things. Scary, but I ended up putting my name down.
As I say, the conference itself isn’t for several months yet, but the deadline for talk submissions was today, so I had to think fast. I won’t know whether they want me for a while yet, but I’ll keep my phone on just in case! It would certainly be an interesting experience, and may be good for business too. We’ll see how things go, anyway. I’m not holding my breath, but you never know, I could be the next big thing in web design…