One of the least enjoyable moments of any workshop I give, be it Zoom or live, is when we go through some experience I consider dynamic, fun, engaging and occasionally profound— or show videos of my kids performing with such joy, connection and musicianship— and then ask, “Any questions?” And am met with stony silence.
I needn’t take it personally. I think that one of three things is happening:
1) When you’re playing, singing and dancing, you’re out of your head and into your body and heart. You release yourself to the visceral experience and the analytic mind gets a time-out. So when the experience is over, the transition from the full body/mind to the mind that formulates a question is a slow one, a kind of small shock to the system.
2) It might be that the particular kind of experience and the way it was taught was so different from what the participant has previously experienced that they don’t know how to think about, never mind ask a relevant and penetrating question.
3) The least happy reason is that people are afraid to look foolish in front of their peers, or don’t have the habit of reflection, or are conditioned not to speak out. Having taught a Zoom college class, I especially worried about this, a silence that is genuinely uncomfortable when I’m looking for engagement and dialogue and further investigation. When I teach, I’m putting out a call and if there’s no response, there ain’t no music.
Sometimes I feel that in this blog. Putting out all these reflections, ideas, stories, to stimulate thought, discussion, conversation, all of which I never get to be a part of. There is some kind of comment bar that mostly has been strangers advertising over-the-counter drugs. I think, frankly, that there’s something off about it, but I haven’t been inspired to fix it because if people really commented, I wouldn’t have the time to properly respond. But a few pithy responses that stimulate further thought and reflection would certainly be welcome!