Pianist Pains

Nine months. That’s how long I’ve taken piano lessons. With two older brothers who played piano for years and started college as Piano Performance majors, I have a good perspective of how good I am not at playing the piano. Whereas both of my brothers are exceptional pianists, my skills are barely adequate in comparison, though they may be good enough to impress someone who does not play. The more I play, and the more situations I play in, the more I realize how much I have to learn. Most things in life seem to work like this.

In way of example, I mostly play classical piano. For me this means playing classical pieces by myself. Subsequently, I am pretty good at playing the piano by myself. It’s a whole different matter trying to play in a band with other people. A couple times I have played the keyboard with my church worship band, and it was a totally different experience.

Once again I am about to uncover my inexperience as a musician, because what the crap playing music with other people is hard.

I’m just playing chords this is ridiculous.

Why is this even hard.

Why is playing a keyboard so different from playing a piano.

What am I even doing.

As mentioned above, all that I was having to play was chords, but for some reason it was just hard to play very well. It was just an entirely different experience than playing by myself, and as such was harder than I expected. Although I had been playing piano for about six months and the music I had to play in the band was about as simple as it could have been, it still posed a challenge to me. I realized that I was still utterly lacking as a pianist.

My point is that whenever you think that you’ve gotten to the point that you’re really, really, good, you’re probably wrong. I’ve learned this lesson over and over, and with things that I’m better at than playing piano. I’ve learned it in the disciplines of singing and theater just to name a couple. In singing, whenever I begin to think that I’m a really good singing, I am faced with the reality that I’m inexperienced at choral singing, bad at sight singing, my knowledg of theory is rudimentary, my range can be dubious, and that my technique is not always very good. In theater, when I get cocky about my ability, I am faced with a really difficult role that shows me that I’m not really as talented as I might think.

On the one hand this can be frustrating. On the other hand, it gives me something to work towards and aspire to. I think that higher levels of talent and ability are available to me if I pursue these things with dedication. But if I allow myself to think that I’m already exceptionally accomplished- whether it be piano, singing or theater- I will never become as accomplished as I might become if I admit that I still have so much to learn.

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