Today I woke up, literally, at the break of dawn. And then, I made a decision.
A bold decision I had avoided making for the longest time.
I thought it would be tough. Or so I thought.
I thought it was supposed to be gradual. But it was not.
I thought there were many options to this problem. Yet there were not.
I gave myself too many excuses, believing the problem look bigger than it was, making it difficult for myself to choose a solution. A solution that looked so simple to be true and that I shied away from choosing it, only knowing it all along at the back of my head that it was the only solution to this problem. A problem that I finally dissected carefully, slice by slice and, looked closely (however cruel that might be to my own ego) in detail.
But I knew, too many choices meant no choices, unless I made one.
Then I acted upon my courage and made that choice.
And once I decided to choose, it was easy. I felt that cloud in my head was gone. I felt powerful with that decision making.
It does not mean that the problem is instantly solved and gone (pff! in the air). Nothing like that at all. I just simply know what to do now. I take on this direction with a clear thought, understanding that I am on the right track.
And frankly, there is usually only one real solution to that one problem.
It’s just like the way I always tell you, “choose to think positive about your playing, believe in your ability to progress, and this will be the start of your real playing”. I believe in this motto a hundred percent. Just choose this positive thought, and go with this direction. Nothing wishy-washy about it. It is just this black and white.
Don’t say, “oh, but it’s too difficult. I am not good at it.” Or, “how can it be so simple? Just think positive and everything changes?” Well, if it is that simple, why not do it? And if it is not that simple, why not try harder to make that decision and see what happens?
The truth is, IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD. Everything starts with your mind. Your mind controls the way you think, the way you play, the way you move your bodies, your arms, your wrists, your fingers, your feet.
So tell me again, is it simple or not now?
Once you have that clear thought, that focus, on HOW TO PLAY BETTER, instead of how not to make mistake, everything turns around. Everything is not the same anymore. In fact, everything starts to fall into place.
You start to see things more clearly, how to move your hands, how to align your fingers with the keys, how to activate your arms and bodies, how to interpret the music. Suddenly, you open up a brand new world of music appreciation and understanding, not to mention a brand new way of piano playing.
I have told you all about how I practiced that five-finger exercise back at my graduate school days. Every Day. When I should only be working on the big pieces.
Yet I knew, I had to fix my techniques. So I pressed on, working on it every day, with that wrist weight, five minutes a day. Then ten minutes, fifteen minutes. Then I worked on those big pieces with that weight as well. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
I did not know how long that would take. But I kept going, believing that I would get there, step by step, however tiny each step that might be. Then, one day, I knew, I got it.
That feeling of getting it was, marvelous. And that technique remained with me still.
But what if I didn’t do it? Thinking it was a waste of time?
Then I would never get it. It was as simple as that.
Another thing is, stop blaming others or the apparent restrictions for your own problems. “Oh, my hands are too small, my fingers/my legs too short, I am too thin/tiny that I cannot put the weight under my fingers/into the keys…. I’ve learnt bad techniques for the past ten years! How can I fix them??… I just read very slowly, my sight reading is so bad…I had bad teachers who didn’t teach me anything/taught me in many wrong ways… I just don’t know how to practice… I just don’t have time to practice… it’s just too difficult…” I wonder, how do those who cannot see play so well? How do those who have less fingers and with less physical ability play so fine? Should they be the ones to complain first??..
Then, please. Stop playing. Because you are not ready to put effort into this. You just don’t have the heart and soul for this. And you have only yourself to blame. Because you know what? YOU are your own obstacle. YOU are the one who limit yourself from improving. YOU are the problem and the solution. No one, not even me, can help you if YOU do not want to try harder and play better.
But you said, “no, I DO want to play better”. Now, think twice and think harder, and ask yourself this, “DO I REALLY WANT TO PLAY BETTER? HAVE I DONE ENOUGH TO THINK AND PLAY BETTER?”
I believe you have the answer now.
So choose to be positive. Choose to think you can improve and play better. Every single day. When you wake up, look into that mirror, and tell yourself, “I am great. I can play better today. Because I choose to.”
Try it. It is a very powerful thing. (Or at least it’s funny enough to do so)
In fact, YOU can be a very powerful person. Only you haven’t unleashed your superpower yet.
Sometimes things do get tough, but always remember, you have chosen the right path. Just stick with it. And you shall see the light. Hopefully soon.
And one day, just one day, I shall see that right answer for me at the end of that road.
P.S. I know you all want to know, what my problem was. I let you know when I get my answer :)