Update on my return to flute-playing: stagnation. After my initial spurt of excitement and discipline, I waited and waited for my Zen Flute Master to get back to me … and he never did. He said he was very busy … I guess he was too busy to tell me he couldn’t take a new student this summer. And unsurprisingly, over my weeks of waiting to schedule a lesson, my practicing trailed off– quite precipitously, in fact. This is all a testament to accountability. You can set all the goals you want, but without some kind of periodic accountability– a lesson, a deadline, a performance, a weekly meeting– it’s hard to get off your butt and get things done. Even if the things are fun! (Note: when I say we need accountability, I am NOT talking about NCLB or more skills testing.) I’ve tried on my sabbatical to put accountability measures in place with my writing (e.g., scheduling research trips, weekly “check-ins” with a departmental colleague, etc.) but I have discovered that I need them for some of the things I thought would just take care of themselves. For example, I keep meaning to go out and paint, but never quite get out the door. I’ve hardly played any tennis outside of the scheduled league matches that I know I have to play. And I’ve (mostly) stopped practicing. I think I’ve only practiced once or twice in the past 3 weeks. I’ve gotten a ton of writing done as a result, which I suppose is a good thing, since it’s what I’m supposed to be doing on sabbatical, after all. But all work and no play makes Jean a dull girl, right? Incidentally, I started writing this blog as a form of accountability. I figured that if I knew I needed to post once or twice per week in order to create a coherent narrative of my sabbatical, I’d a) write installments of that narrative; and b) get things accomplished so that I’d have something to write about. This has worked 🙂 … I am especially glad that I announced my Weekly Poem Project, because it is only the first week, and I’ve already written three poems and explored a bunch of poetic forms that are new to me. So– what’s the accountability plan for my poor, neglected flute? The obvious answer: find another teacher. I browsed around on the web and didn’t really find anything that appealed (sorry, not really interested in someone who claims to be able to teach flute, Broadway singing, trombone, and clarinet!). I also wondered how private lessons would help me get to my goal of joining a group to play with so that I wouldn’t just be playing by myself (but no flute choirs, please). Then I stumbled upon Peabody Prep, the youth/continuing ed wing of Baltimore’s famed Peabody Conservatory. Turns out they have adult chamber groups– you audition for them and then they place you in one, and your tuition pays for a weekly rehearsal session with a coach. Now that sounds like fun! Less expensive than private lessons, too. Before I could let myself think too much about it, I sent off an e-mail inquiry to the program director, to see if I could audition for a fall semester group. I hope I hear from him soon. And then, amazingly, I suddenly had the urge to practice–and did.


One thought on “Accountability

  1. I know exactly what you mean. I tried to learn Spanish through self-study and Rosetta Stone, but I could hardly get off the ground. Must be the permanent student inside me: I need homework and the fear of disappointing someone!


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