Tuesday, May 12, 2009


"But WHY do I have to play these pieces any longer? I'm so sick and tired of them!"

That's a great question. We have been learning their repertoire pieces over the course of a school year, more or less. Some of the younger ones have had their shorter pieces a shorter amount of time. Some believed they mastered their music but when we wanted to record them, they heard their stutters and errors and resolved to persevere and dig a little deeper.

Therein lies the life nugget for me. Perseverance teaches. I could let them quit the piece. I could let them quit the whole exam. I could jump in and make it easier. More than ever to me, I'm seeing children that are allowed to quit things so easily. Try it and if you don't like it, we'll quit. Many live in a state of instant gratification. Dedication and determination to see the job to its completion is taught young, I think.

I could also motivate a little more, cheer a little louder, and show them that the goal is only days away. A mere week in time will reap them the rewards of having stayed the course. Having the tenacity to hold on just a little longer is such a part of being a great worker, part of being a good parent, part of being a good human being.

J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, was turned down by twelve publishers. Walt Disney was fired as a young man from the Kansas City Star Newspaper because his boss thought he lacked creativity. Milton Hershey started three candy companies in three different states before he landed in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Steve Jobs, Simon Cowell, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein-the list is deep and wide of people who were steadfast and endured what the world called failure.

More is caught than taught my grandma used to say. So I persevere. One time when a student told me they were so sick and tired of their pieces, I looked right at them and said "Me too!" You should have seen their face.


  1. Very true and funny. In many ways, perseverance teaches more lessons than almost any other thing. To all involved.

  2. I can remember being so sick of my piano pieces. It would take me forever to perfect them.

  3. Some of my former students say that because of the endurance of learning them for so long that they can still play their pieces from long ago. Can you, willow? i bet you're good!

  4. I think Glenn Gould understood exactly why we have to practice and practice and practice some more. He played those Bach variations for - what? - 40 years? 50?

    I'm a big believer in practice. I meditate every day, over and over again. I like the repetition.

    Maybe I should come study piano with you!

  5. "The purpose of art is not the momentary ejection of adrenaline, but rather the lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity."

    --Glenn Gould

  6. I'd love to have you here, Reya!

  7. Both my children play piano, my son grade four, my daughter grade two. I, too, played piano for seven years and my father is a professional pianist so I can perfectly understand where your students come from. It is a difficult instrument and in my case my dad did not make it easier for me to learn with his constant criticisms on solfege and theory; by the way I used to hate both.

    Reading now the second of the Bach's bigraphies I have just borrowed from my local library, I realise that music is about as natural ability (I had a good ear for playing the piano) as it is about nurturing the talent and working bloody hard to develop it.

    Many thanks for such a beautiful post.

    Greetings from London.


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