Resolution and evolution

A New Year is a good opportunity to introduce new changes, because it generally suggests wiping the slate clean, starting afresh and being a new person again. (The New Year may also be the time where you can set aside all disputes you may have had in the months before, and for a few hours or days until your next error, feel like a blameless person!) It is no surprise that many new year resolutions are made in January, and everyone hopes to demonstrate more positivity in their lives by introducing a change for the better. This may be something such as to live more healthily, to be a better person, or to visit someone more often and give them support or company.

Usually the belief in the new behaviour is reward enough to try. For example, making a resolution to go out and exercise may be good enough if you can see that a fitter you might also be a better you. But we know that humans are creatures of habit and until new intentions become habitual we may need to find some way to overcome it. So how do you do it? Would you punish yourself if you failed to live up to your resolution so that you might be more committed to it?

Some people believe in the negative punishment while others believe in establishing routine through positive reinforcement. However you choose to do it, you have to remember that the whole point of resolutions is so that you better yourself through a process of evolution – you have to evolve as you better yourself. Perhaps that in understanding that you will find the motivation to keep hanging on to your resolution and pushing through the difficult moments.

To summarise – we make resolutions in the new year. We want to improve ourselves – which is why we do it. See it as a process, that it is not going to happen overnight, and keep trying – you’ll get there when it becomes a habit!

Establishing control – a musical anecdote

Control is a double edged sword. Most of us try to establish control over various aspects of our lives, so that we can keep those sections organised in a fairly manageable way such that they run themselves without much effort. To do this we either establish routines, or templates to run our lives, and to do so we have to expend an initial amount of time setting them up – the idea is that the efficiency savings will eventually outweigh the time spent setting them up.

Consider this example – a parent wants to teach his or her child to be responsible. So he or she invests time teaching them how to get dressed, clean their teeth, estimate the time needed to do so – which is a lot of training. Eventually, instead of the continuous hassle of chasing up after the child to do all these, as well as tidy up their room before leaving the house, the parent will simply need to say “We’re going out at ten” and leave the child to get ready for themselves. Older children may even learn to pack their own lunches if they can estimate that they are going to be out over lunch time.

Routines are good because they save us time. But what happens when one form of control (by someone) interrupts another form of control (of another)? Conflict results. And in an increasing world where people are consciously trying to control various stages of life – social, work, personal – conflicts are bound to happen and mediation is a good place to resolve two forms of control.

A lack of control may make you feel helpless. (Or as the Muswell Hill Piano Teachers website says, it is like playing a piano with one of the pedals missing.) But we can deal with this by mental rehearsal and preparation through experience, training ourselves not to feel helpless. In other words, feeling controlled despite a lack of control. And how would we do that? Just like learning a keyboard instrument, it is through practice and familiarity.

Did you know the tenor Placido Domingo once made his Met debut with only 35 minutes to spare? He was stuck in a traffic jam, but made full use of the time in the car to warm up, because that was the only aspect he could control. So sometimes when things go wrong, that might be a useful thing to remember! When you have to control over circumstances and feel anxious, the only resolution between the two would be how you react to it. Another musical anecdote you might want to bear in mind is of the composer G F Handel, who wrote the famous oratorio Messiah. He was famously unflappable and calm in many circumstances – having control over himself and his reactions!

Inventions – and from a musical perspective

Why do we use barbed wire fences for? It is to keep our property fenced and demarcated, so that it is not claimed by anyone who ventures in and decides to stake a claim on it until he or she is turfed out.

Barb wire had the same purpose for when it was invented over a hundred years ago. It was invented by a man called John Gates, and to demonstrate the effectiveness of his fence, Gates used to round up Texan longhorns and take bets on whether the wild animals would be able to break free of the fence. In the past, cattle used to merely break out of cattle fences quite easily, and the barb wire fence looked fragile enough to be broken by wild animals. But beneath its simplicity lies its strength. Two coils of barbs are tied together and linked for strength. “Bet A Million” Gates, as he became known, probably won that amount many times over as onlookers wagered against him.

The simple idea of two coils linked with a wire around them has made barbed wire ubiquitous in the modern day.

We can look for inspiration for new ideas from the things around – think about how we could devise solutions to problems around us. Sometimes the problems might not be serious, but improving on them would signal better efficiency and cut down the cost – social, mental, or financial – of doing so would be greater than doing things the same way. The problem is that breaking away to create something completely new requires a shift in mindset so great that all things leading up to it have to be disconnected. For example, when Bartolomeo Cristofori invented the piano, the hammer action was a new thing. (There are other lesser known facts about the piano here; if we followed pre-existing trends we would be playing on pianos run on water originating from the hydraulis!) But inventions do not need to be new physical objects, they can merely be new methods of doing things. Think double-entry book-keeping, which transformed the way we keep accounts. Or Impressionist music by Claude Debussy, which changed the way we used musical notes and tones!

To invent is a human trait. As human beings we constantly innovate and create. What do you think will be the next thing to transform the housing industry?

The holiday buzz

Imagine if you were on holiday. It is a time to break away from the usual cycles in your life, to do something new, or to have a different experience away from what might seem like the daily drudgery of things. You are physically away from work, so yes, there is a break from routine. Perhaps you might be relaxing by the pool on a sun lounger – the physical environment would be different, and not just because of the buildings, but maybe the warmer weather might seem a long way away from home. You don’t have your usual work colleagues with you. Everything seems different, which is nice because it allows your mind a new experience, recharging it, so that you are back to the usual routine your batteries have been recharged.
Then what else happens? You pick up your phone and check for emails and social media updates.

It is a matter of opinion of course, but doing these latter things are rather silly. And why is this blog of the opinion so? It is because activities such as checking emails and social media updates are negative experiences and breed dependency. Look at it this way. When they work, you end up checking your updates at a frequent interval – this differs from individual to individual – and this can range from being perceived as dependent or obsessive. But what happens when they don’t work? Your obsessiveness is transferred to checking for internet connections and waiting for the precise moment everything kicks in. Or if there is an outage, you feel depressed for hours while your cortisone levels are heightened and you feel stressed. On holiday!

That above advice would work unless you are an extreme extrovert, one that needs the energy and buzz to feel alive! The composer and pianist Franz Lizst frequently travelled when performing, but was known to feed off the energy and excitement, that if he was not part of the buzz, he would just fade away. Stillness was quiet for him, but too quiet. Perhaps everyone is different – and when you are with someone, identifying their natural tendencies would help you avoid upsetting the other person. Try to identify what kind of person they are, and work with their sensibilities.

How music lessons may help resolve single-parenting stresses

In your own country, what is the perception of families in which there is only one parent looking after the children? Single-parent families, to use the term, are on the rise and in most Western societies are accepted as a common occurrence in daily societal life. In some other countries, particularly in Ireland and Italy, where there is strong Catholic influence, they are perhaps viewed with less tolerance because it suggests that divorce has been on the cards (not good in the eyes of the church!) or perhaps that child has been born out of wedlock.

One woman in Japan was concerned about the effect that single-parenthood was taking on her daughter. Her daughter was becoming less outgoing and more withdrawn in the company of her peers. Perhaps the girl was aware that among her friends, she was the only one without a father. Perhaps the girl faced the same old questions about her family among her friends and was shy about answering them. This woman was so concerned about her daughter’s change that she hired an actor to play the role of the father seeking a reconciliation. Such a step is unusual because most actors normally do just one job in an escort capacity, pretending to be a boyfriend or similar on a one-off, but this actor playing the father has made repeated visits and is viewed as part of the family. It was reported that the actor was concerned about his role and the effect on the girl, because at some point she would have to know he was not actually her real father, and the deception might mean that she would never trust men again. In addition, the woman that hired him, the mother also was developing feelings for him! This is a drastic solution but perhaps illustrates the extent to which parents are willing to go to make their children happy.

Single-parenting throws its own difficulties because single parents are under financial pressures and work pressures to balance the household. There are also time pressures, as they cannot give their full attention to their children. Conflicting demands mean that it is sometimes useful for their children to develop hobbies that teach a skill such as learning computing, sport, or taking up a musical instrument like the piano. It may not be difficult if you can get a piano teacher to come to your home, like the Piano Teacher in N8 says, which means they can learn the piano at home while you get on with your own work!

The education game

In every country there are occupations that are looked upon more favourably than others, and other jobs that are less so. One of these jobs is teaching. In countries such as those in the Far East, teachers are held more in high regard than in the West. But what is the reason for this disparity?

The underlying reason for this is to examine the role of education in society. In countries where teachers are highly respected, it is because education provides a perceptible means of livelihood in the future. If you study hard and get good grades, you are in a better position than others to land a job. In job markets where competition is strong, it would be to the employer’s benefit to recruit the most qualified person for the job. Which is why education is key, and those involved in the dissemination of information, however small a snippet, are valued and looked up to. Every small nugget of information could make a half mark difference in an exam paper.

To imagine the difference this half mark could make, look at it from a different perspective. If you were a basketball player, you would rather be described as six feet tall instead of five eleven. Or seven feet instead of six eleven. That extra tiny bit pushes you to a new category altogether. The same goes for education. Miss the cut off for an A grade, and your future might take a different turn altogether.

The competition for work, higher education and jobs means that increasingly students are not only out to get the best tutors and get into the best schools, they are also looking towards getting more extra curricular activities and skills to promote themselves. The Piano Teacher Muswell Hill website reports that more people are taking up piano lessons and other skills in other to be not only more marketable for jobs, but to attract high-competition universities into offering them places! Be like Muzio Clementi, who was not only a pianist, a piano maker, but also a editor and composer! (read more about this from the Piano Teacher N4 page).

There have been lawsuits between education providers and students – students sued universities when they believed the teaching to be inadequate, leading them to get poor grades. These sorts of disputes are likely to only to increase in the future as competition heats up – mediating parties will (hopefully) continue to be more demand.

Land limitations, diet and music

Would you eat an insect to save the world? It may sound like a ridiculous point of comparison, but the fact is that the world population is increasing at a rate that is unsustainable in terms of food production. The world’s population already numbers somewhere between seven and eight billion, and every twenty years or less, an additional billion is added on to it.

The largest countries in the world are China and India, with populations each over a billion; China has an estimated 1.4 billion people while India has about 1.2 billion. (Strangely enough, India often does not feature in news reports about large populations; the media prefers China as its poster boy instead.) At the current rate of growth, by the end of this century we would have added an extra China AND India to the world!

This has repercussions for land use and economic considerations. Already we are struggling to produce food for the current world population. How are we going to produce more food to that effect? Which is why ridiculous as it may sound, some people are proponents of an insect diet. They suggest that insects are plentiful, do not require large space to grow, have quick production rates, and some of them are pests after all and would not be missed – in fact we would be doing the world a favour if we helped eradicate the world of them.

Would you eat a cockroach burger? Or might you fancy grasshopper kebabs? Unfortunately as things stand these do not sound very appetising – but perhaps if gourmet restaurants start a trend by serving them as micro-protein within food, it might help make them more acceptable? How about chilli con cockroach?

Unfortunately, it is the limitations with land space that necessitate a change. If we had unlimited land, we could stave off the need for change (but that’s also assuming that we could find a way of limiting carbon production). But unfortunately we do not, and the methods of the 1980s – bigger and more – have to be curbed and managed.

We can take a leaf out of the page of classical music. The Romantic piano composer Ferruchio Busoni wanted to recreate the organ music of Bach on a piano. Unfortunately, this meant that bigger pianos had to be made to accommodate strings at the upper and lower frequencies. But while he was responsible for bigger pianos – the world’s largest piano currently has 108-keys, nearly 25% increase in size – we can’t simply keep making bigger pianos because of the space they occupy and also because of the cost. Read more about Busoni and large pianos on the Manor House piano teacher website, or visit www.pianoworks.co.uk.

As with all things, a resolution between two opposing circumstances.

Changing social practices

Would you expect to go into a supermarket, be charged a debit amount, and then have the value of your purchases added up and the original amount debited refunded to you? Amazingly, this is what some supermarkets in the Far East have been doing. If you for example came to one of these such supermarkets, you would be greeted with a turnstile at the entrance, whereupon you would have to tap a credit card to operate the barriers for entry. And after you had done the shopping for the day or the week, you would pay separately for the items you had purchased. And just before you exited the store, you would be credited with the amount taken from you in the first place. It sounds a bit like a sort of entry tax, except that you are not charged for the entry. The money is only held temporarily until you leave the store.

If it sounds like an over-complication of matters, it is. Why would any supermarket want to charge you for two separate amounts – the entry fee and then the purchases? It would make their books so complicated with entries that were only temporary. And it throws a lot of extra burden to the shopper, in having to ensure that they got their “entry fee” returned in the first place. Why do it?

Supermarkets have resorted to this to reduce the incidences of shoplifting. The idea in charging a small fee of entry is to discourage petty theft by making it uneconomical to enter a shop to shoplift. A thief would be charged an entry fee on demand, and would have to steal quite a significant number of goods to make up for it. And then there is an entry fee to reclaim, and a card which can be traced.

It is such a good idea, on paper, that some fuel service stations in the UK trialled it at petrol stations to stop fuel theft. Drivers are charged a refundable pump fee, then top up their car and pay for the fuel, before claiming their refund – this prevents fuel theft at the pump by drivers driving off the forecourt without paying. The subsequent cost of lost revenues and lost police time spent investigating may mitigate for the cost in implementing such new measures.

When you are buying a property, once you are past a certain stage in the process you cannot pull out – that is the same intention behind these changing processes. They prevent conflict from arising. We already make downpayments as commitments in other areas of life. When you buy on ebay, and pay through paypal, you have paid for an item before receiving it. If you intend to take up piano lessons, usually you have to pay in advance for a term’s lessons. This is a commitment to lessons, and to guarantee the teacher’s time.

A new means of payment at the supermarket may result in changing social practices in the future – who knows? There may be initial resentment to it, but perhaps in the future it might prevent conflict and result in earlier mediation between parties.

Manspreading

Have you heard of this term called manspreading? There is a video doing the rounds of a woman going around pouring bleach – light diluted ones – on men that deliberately spread their legs apart on public transport or take up more than the agreed space of the armrest. If you have ever been a victim of manspreading, you may agree this is a good punishment for those who do it.
And why exactly do people do it? The reasons for this may vary but it is like asking why people put feet on train seats. Because they are unlikely to be prosecuted for that (although one train company does make it an offence), they don’t really care about others, and because they are insecure. You may not necessarily agree with the suggestion that manspreading masks a certain level of insecurity, but if a person were a country, political commentators might remark that aggressive over-expansionism masks a psychological fear of being invaded and is triggered by such feelings of insecurity. People who manspread decide to take up more space than they need to so that if someone else does the same thing, they would have retained the normal space they are entitled to anyway. It is a pre-emptive strike.

Is it fair to pour bleach on someone who has manspreaded though? We must be careful we do not condone such acts, otherwise crazy individuals might take it upon themselves as vigilantes to throw water on women who do their makeup on public transport. We must be careful not to degenerate as a society.

But sometimes we feel the need to retaliate, in a tit-for-tat manner, in order to deal with the perpetrator. But perhaps a better way of investing our energy, instead of making life as difficult for the other person, would be to seek a resolution for all parties to move on. After all, disagreements can last so long a period and drain our energy so much that less might have been required to resolve it. We can take a lesson from classical music – the solo concerto. Both the soloist and orchestra compete, but in the end, success really depends on how they work together!

Airline mediation

Did you hear about the pony on a plane? He was told to stop horsing around during the take off and the landing procedures. Or how about the turkey that gobbled his inflight meal?

Now those puns are unlikely to get you first prize of the best punch line at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In fact, people that you know, and who might normally give a sympathetic laugh (or cough) might even look at you with a blank stare. Tell those jokes to younger children, and you might even get protest cries of “But animals don’t go on planes!”

It may seem as an oddity. But animals are actually allowed on planes. Some anyway. And there have been occasions in the past when animals such as ponies and turkeys have been on planes.

Animals were allowed on planes because some passengers feared flying and were allowed to take them on as some sort of comfort companion, as if having a best friend animal would alleviate the fear of ascending and descending in a metal tin can. Airlines, in a bid to look more inclusive, have recently introduced this new element to flying so as to make it possible for those with anxieties to manage them instead of going berserk forty thousand feet above the air.

However, there wasa recent case of a woman who was denied her chosen travelling companion in the form of a squirrel. The whole plane load of passengers had to be disembarked after the woman protested vehemently about her friend being asked to leave. It wasn’t as if the woman had tried to sneak a squirrel on; she had done it the correct and proper way, following the airline procedure. So who knows how they would have tried to mediate between that?

Does a dispute occur because one party’s view is too futuristic for another? In the world of classical music, the composer Igor Stravinsky sparked a furore with his ballet The Rite of Spring. It was too risque for the time and caused a public outrage. You can read more about this from the Crouch End piano lessons website.

The cases once again highlights the case for proper trained mediation between parties in order to achieve a proper resolution. For your housing disputes, seeking TPOS, The Ombudsman Property Service for dispute resolution!