Emotional Baggage, Anyone?

We all have a past. This past consists of something good, something great, something splendid and even excellent; as well as something not so great, something really bad, awful or even horrible, something we wish never happened and that we could forget.

Okay. Just forget about it. Forget about the past already.

Start Today. Start Now.

The only thing we can do is to learn from the past really, and not hold a grudge against it. I know, it’s hard, we’ve all been there, haven’t we? We always remember that time we got lost in the middle of that performance, we didn’t do well in that exam, we slipped in that movement, we went too fast in that phrase, we missed some notes, etc etc.

We wish it never happened and that we could re-do it again.

Sorry, that would never happen either. And who can promise that if we ever had a chance again we would do it so much better and all so perfectly?

There is no such promise. There is always risk. There is always chance to succeed or fail. We don’t know if it’s 50-50, 80-20 or even just 30-70.

We just don’t know.

Of course, if we prepare ourselves better, get more detailed practice done, we would have much more confidence in our playing and better chance in succeeding. And vice versa.

Does regret help?

Absolutely not.

Then, what do we do? Just sit there and sulk? Do nothing, and keep thinking we might fail anyway? (Or keep practicing and playing, but thinking we might fail anyway in the back of our mind?)

We move forward. We do better the next time.

We play better in the next bar, the next phrase, the next section, the next movement, the next piece, the next exam, the next performance, the next concert, the next year.

The next opportunity.

We look at our mistakes, calmly, rationally, analytically, critically without emotional judgement or blame whatsoever.

We try to understand what went wrong in the past. Then we move on, believing that the next time will be better.

Do we have to care so much about what others think? Is what we do, the purpose of our learning and playing the piano, for others? Is it if we are playing without the video camera on, not for exams, not in a concert, without anyone watching, we can just slack off and play something not as beautiful and less than perfect?

Please ask yourselves these questions. Would your answer be “yes”?

For instance, if a person is considered polite and has good manner, is it okay for him/her to be rude and behave improperly when no one is watching? If a person is considered clean and neat, should s/he still be considered so when s/he doesn’t keep her/himself as clean and neat when s/he is alone?

The answer, I think, is “no”.

This is, what we call, SELF-DISCIPLINE.

This means, it doesn’t matter whether there’s someone watching us play or not, we still ought to play beautifully and precisely, as perfect and controlled as we can. be
This also means, it doesn’t matter if the teacher (to my students, me) is there or not, one ought to play the same way with or without such teacher’s presence (so my students, stop telling me you play much better at home! I cannot hear that version at all! Please try your best to show me that beautiful relaxed playing the same way you do it alone).

Stop caring what others (including friends and enemies) think. Instead, let us all raise our bar and have a much higher standard for ourselves.

It’s all about what we want to achieve.

Watch and listen to more of our own playing from a third person’s point of view (record and watch/listen), and be critical of our own playing rationally. Learn from our mistakes and analyze our problems. Why do the audience want to listen to us play if we don’t have a personal, critical and thoughtful interpretation of that piece of music?

Let us control our unnecessary emotion with our mind, our willpower, our intention and determination to play well and beautifully.

To my students specifically: show me a more detailed and expressive interpretation of the music. Throw away your emotional baggage and play up to your potential now. I know you can do much better than this, all of you.

We are not doing this tomorrow, on Friday, or next week.

TODAY is the day to do start fresh and anew. TODAY is the day to live intensely and play passionately.

Start Today. Start NOW.

Teresa Wong

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