Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Why didn’t you tell me that before?

Seeing the wood from the trees, 1979 by Susie Mallett

How many conductors have been asked that question? For me this was the first time.
It was the marching, painting, beckoning young man who asked me, last week, and of course I felt a bit sheepish because he was right. I should have said something earlier but I didn’t know what!

This young man was down on all fours trying to lift one arm and the opposite leg (see photo where he is looking at his cakes in the oven, http://konduktorin.blogspot.com/2008/10/na-ja-du-warst-kalt.html ) and he continuously fell flat on his nose! Time and time again he determinedly got up while I made several suggestions as to how he could solve the problem: by distributing his weight differently, by moving a hand or a knee forwards or backwards until he found his balance, or maybe lifting or dropping his head. Nothing worked.

Then came the eureka moment. I was looking at the wrong places. I should have taken a step backwards a bit earlier so that I could see his whole body. As he lifted his arm, instead of moving it upwards, he was stretching so far forward that the other arm could not bear all his weight, so he tipped forwards. I told my client what I had observed and he corrected the movement, immediately achieving his aim, and then very seriously he asked me “Why didn’t you tell me that before?”

Well, the simple answer was thatI hadn’t managed to find the solution myself . I told him that he was right, I should have seen it before, but I was standing too close to him to observe properly.
I couldn’t see the wood for the trees.

This is often the danger when working with individuals, working too closely. You do not have to step away to work with someone else and so observe other clients from a distance as you do when working with a group.

My client and I have a ways to compensate for this and in some parts of the programme when he needs no manual facilitation I do the tasks too, on other occasions he will tell me to stay away and he will do the tasks alone, and I will retreat to the furthest corner of the room to observe.

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