“Since I was very young, I’ve played all kinds of music: bar mitzvah music, Sousa marches, strip-club music, jazz, pop.
I didn’t have to learn a thing to do Michael Jackson.”
“You’re supposed to use everything from the past.
If you know where you come from, it’s easier to get where you’re going. Musical principles exist, man. Musicians today can’t go all the way with the music because they haven’t done their homework with the left brain.
Music is emotion and science.
You don’t have to practice emotion because that comes naturally.
Technique is different. If you can’t get your finger between three and four and seven and eight on a piano, you can’t play. You can only get so far without technique. People limit themselves musically. Do these musicians know tango? Macumba? Yoruba music? Samba? Bossa nova? Salsa? Cha-cha?”
I recently subscribed to the The Great Courses Plus, so that I could bring myself up to speed on the Math needed to do my 12th standard exams.
All these years, whenever I’ve tried to teach myself trigonometry (or other people have tried to explain it to me) it has always been an exercise in frustration, followed by the general exhortation to just mug it up.
My brain sadly is not wired that way. I can and I will mug it up.
But I do want to know what the first principles are, so that I have the ability to derive what I need.
I need to understand.
Professor Tanton’s Geometry course was this eye opener for me.
I thought him slightly pretentious in the beginning, when he repeatedly says, he doesn’t know what the answer is … and then goes on to figure it out.
A few lectures in, though, and I’m suddenly a rabid fan of the approach.
Prof Tanton puts himself in my place and with glee, figures things out, just like a new learner would.
I find myself pausing the video, when he says he does not know and then try to figure it out just like he would (or rather he would, that I would … by slowly reasoning and being ok with mistakes)
His love for the subject shines through all he does.
There are ropes and knots and hand motions and sound effects (shoom!) and boards and screens and ugly drawings (just like mine) and folded pieces of paper and tiles and he bounces between all of them to explain stuff and make his point.
Here’s what I’m talking about.
This is one of my later classes, and I’m barely halfway through.
In fact, I’m at the point in lecture 18, where he tries to explain how to sum up two sines.
So why the gratitude rush?
Because Prof Tanton just lit the biggest light bulb in my head, and gave me my biggest a-ha, I’ve ever had in a long time.
Lectures 16 & 17 explaing circle-ometry, naturally leading into the basics of trigonometry, suddenly made sense of so much stuff for me.
All the advanced algebra I’ve been doing, the basic calculus I’ve been learning suddenly just “clicked!”
And there’s another reason.
He showed me that genius is not the norm for doing maths and science.
Persistence, slow methodical work, gentle reasoning and practice will get me there.
If James Tanton PhD. Mathematics, Princeton University, 1994, & Mathematician in Residence at the Mathematical Association of America in Washington D.C. does it this way, so can I.
He’s made me fall in love with maths.
And for that, dear Professor Tanton, I’m eternally grateful.
This year is suddenly when everything turned small for me.
Europe1 showed me how small our world was.
Finland’s just five hours away!
Tackling Maths for my higher secondary and Python for programming, suddenly don’t seem like unsurmountable peaks anymore; just a long novel that I need to work my way through; one that definitely comes to an end.
I can do this, is something I’ve felt after a long, long time.
And it’s a joyful feeling.