A stone wall can last hundreds of years, but the
knowledge of how to build one is easily lost.
Wonderful bodies of lore, song, and dance can
fade away unless they are passed on and learned
by the next generation.
Learning a traditional art is more than just knowing
the skills and techniques — those lessons
can be learned from a book, DVD, or the internet.
To truly master a traditional art form, you need
to be immersed in the tradition and understand
why and how it is used. A student must absorb
the aesthetics, cultural history, rules, and behaviors
that go into a craft, dance, or song. You must
have an understanding of the appropriate materials
and know how to find them. You must also learn
to improvise within the art form's rules.
It's possible to learn a tradition directly from
a family member or neighbor, or by growing up
around it. But one of the most important, time-honored
methods for learning skills, techniques, and artistry
is under the guidance of a recognized master.
Apprentices learn directly by observing and imitating
someone steeped in the tradition. The unique relationship
that forms between master artist and apprentice
is more than just lessons, it's a bond that safeguards
many traditional arts.