The Periclean Scholars Class of 2016 decided to take time off from our regularly schedule class to attend Elon’s Fall Convocation: A Conversation with Itzahak Perlman. Although this event wasn’t the most relevant event to our class hosted at Elon, attending this speech was well worth our time. Here are some of the things that I got out of Convocation:
The Importance of Practice and Practicing Well:
As one of the most accomplished classical musicians in the world, I trust that Pearlman knows about practicing. As a boy, he would rehearse for 3 hours a day. His advice during convocation was to practice with a goal in mind to maximize effectiveness. Messing around for three hours with a violin won’t make you a concert violinist. But, if you do small things with purpose, those skills will build on each other and create the skills you need to be great. This can relate to our work at Periclean since the structure of the class gives us time to build our skills. We learn about our countries of focus, we study success and failures in humanitarian aid, we learn teamwork and leadership skills with each other. In other words, we practice. This has been an essential part of our time as Pericleans, proving Perlman’s theory is definitely right- in case the 17 Grammy Awards he’s won wasn’t enough proof.
How to Keep Motivated:
Since Perlman has been playing since he was around 5, an important question the moderator brought up was “How do you keep going?”. Burnout is also an issue in humanitarian aid, and something that has even affected some of the present and past members of our class. Perlman’s answer was simple, you have to have an interest, and you have to keep doing what you like. Nothing is going to replace that passion or initial interest you have. My class’s initial interest in aid work is what drove all of us to apply for the program. However, the second part of Perlman’s advice is about keeping motivated. Perlman has been playing since he was young, but he also started conducting and teaching in order to create new ways to appreciate his art. Hit a slump with a certain project? Try approaching it though a different role. Try getting involved with a similar organization. Try challenging yourself in a new way. This different approach could be enough to remind you why you started in the first place.
Perlman told many antidotes about the people who have helped him in his success. From his violin teacher who would guilt him into doing his scales, to his wife who built and runs the “Perlman Music Program”, to his friend who helped him procure the best violin on the market. All of these people have contributed to Perlman’s success. This serves as a reminder that who you work with is as important as your work ethic. Our class has followed this advice and developed a vetting process for non-profits in order to ensure we work with the best. It also reminded me how lucky I am to work with the other 16’s in my class. And of course, after you develop good relationships, you have to maintain them. This is something Perlman did by calling his boyhood violin teacher before big concerts. We should work just as hard as he did to maintain our relationships, especially since we have had issues with this in the past. Following Perlman’s example will promote our class’ success through better and stronger relationships.
I Should Listen to More Classical Music:
Perlman played a few songs for us, and it was beautiful. I was awed. My classmates sitting around me were enthralled. I thought one of them wiped away a tear….. Don’t believe me? Check out his final performance at Elon. In all seriousness, this guy is talented and his craft is under appreciated by my age group. I’m committed to learning more about classical music after Convocation, or at least, listening to it more. And you should too. Or at least, watch another video of Perlman at Elon.