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Rosamund Zander and human virtuosity

This post is part of a series from the TED 2009 conference held in Long Beach, California from February 4-8th. You can read other posts in the series here, and the TED site will release video from the talk in the coming weeks or months. Because I’m putting these posts together very quickly, I will get things wrong, will misspell names and bungle details. Please feel free to use the comments thread on this post to offer corrections. You may also want to follow the conference via Twitter or through other blogs tagged as on Technorati.

Rosamund Zander, the partner of orchestra conductor Ben Zander, offers her insights on becoming a “human virtuoso” from her “new manual from growing up”. She believes that we continue to experience strategies we discovered in childhood through adulthood, and that these strategies trip us up.

She offers us the memory of an audition she had as a violin student at Swarthmore. The teacher told her, “If I work with you, you’ll need to start over entirely, left hand, right hand, vibrato. You’ll need to spend two hours a day playing scales.”

She reacted two ways – the child reacted with fury – “he doesn’t like me, he doesn’t acknowledge me.” As an adult, she reacted with calm and contempt – “I’m afraid I don’t have time for that.” She tells us that there’s a lesson she missed entirely: the conductor showed her enough respect to not allow her to be a Sunday player, but to challenge her to be a serious orchestral player.

If she had been a true adult, a human virtuoso, she tells us, she would have been able to accept the gift and the lesson. She would have been able to undo her bad habits and rebuilt herself as a grownup artist.

This idea – human virtuosity – is a strategy, a territory to live into. Virtuosity is “reliable access to an authetic state of being in tune with all being.” To reach it, we need to be released from programmed patterns of the past that wire us to win and unfortunately, wire us for war.”

Human virtuosity takes place when we are “who we are being when love and intention go hand in hand and nothing gets in their way.” It’s Tiger Woods stepping off the PGA tour to rebuild his stroke.

As children, we build survival patterns. The child of divorce learns to hide his love of the other parent to get love from the parent he’s with. It’s a pattern that, when it comes up in adulthood, can lead to being unfaithful.

How do we find release from these patterns?
– We need to frame experiences that shake us up as memories
– We must take responsibility for everything – EVERYTHING – that happens in our lives and don’t stop until you we find the explanations
– We need to seek out help in all directions, find people who will teach you to sing. “Give up the person you think you are and become the person you were called to be.”
– End the campaign for approval, safety and control, because, “You’ve already made it through.”

The strategies that get us through childhood alive keep us from growing up. They are an unseen force priming us to be carriers of the ills of the world no matter what we do. We must upgrade the stories from childhood and drop the ancient habits.

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  1. Pingback: TED2009 minutes from Ethan Zuckerman: Grow : Osservatorio Meeting Point

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