Magical Thinking Part 1

I like magic.

My favorite entertainers growing up were magicians. I loved seeing people disappear, get sawed in half, or switch places with someone else (who was usually tied up in a box of some kind.) I am a card trick aficionado.

So at a recent conference on teaching violin, I was interested to hear the presenter say that he aimed to help students move from “magical” to “real” thinking. Students do better, he asserted, when they do not expect results just from wishing it were so. Only an actual change in behavior in the real world results in a different or improved outcome.


Incorrect wrist position makes it hard to play in tune.

On the violin, that translates to a physical change in how one moves. Simply wanting it to sound better won’t change anything unless that wish is accompanied by actual change in movement. That resonated with me, since for most of my violin career I have been mystified by a lack of good tone in my playing, and only recently have discovered teachers willing and able to point out the physical changes necessary to accomplish it.

Correct wrist position

Correct wrist position

In other areas of life as well, attention to the real, physical, flesh and blood world is of paramount importance. If we want to get along with other people, make money, have friendships, and make a meaningful contribution, we will have to observe and understand the world as it actually is, rather than what we want it to be.

Ironically, the magic comes out as a result of such understanding and effort. I can cast a spell with my violin, and teach my students to do so, because I take time to understand the science of the violin. I can affect the world with an entrancing beauty, when I get involved in what is real, what produces such sound.

Take a GoodMinute

  1. When have I affected others positively by paying attention to the real?
  2. What do I wish for in a magical sense? If I could take a small action toward that wish, could I pull it into the real?

One thought on “Magical Thinking Part 1

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