I am going to be quite blunt from now on, and also slightly more philosophical and spiritual with my writing than before. I feel I am running out of time here..
I find that most people like the idea of playing the piano but not exactly the action of it.
Why do I say that?
Have you ever heard your friends say, “I wish I could lose some weight”, then they would add, “if I had time to go exercise”, and “but it’s too hard, and I love eating!” etc etc.
Or, “I would love to go ______ (put any sports or hobbies there: e.g. golfing, fishing, hiking, reading, travelling, cooking…) “, BUT, “I don’t have time”.
IF they are some of those really lucky people in this planet that have TIME, and even when they take action to go do these activities, they actually find that it’s quite an exhausting task to fulfil.
AND if they so do decide and manage to keep this hobby going, they would find they don’t actually like it that much as they thought they really would before they started doing it. Usually it’s because it’s too HARD, and take too much TIME.
But now they are STUCK.. Why? Because they have already started doing this thing they have been wanting to do so long, and they have INVESTED TIME, MONEY and maybe some EFFORT, and also THEY TOLD EVERYONE THEY ARE DOING THIS! THEY CANNOT BACK DOWN CAN THEY NOW??
“CAN I ?!?!?!?” (I think that’s the voice screaming inside the back of your head)
Well, my answer to you is, “YES YOU CAN.”
YES YOU REALLY CAN!!! (I want to scream at that voice inside the back of your head too, if I have to. But no, I want to be gentle.)
Because I have been there.
It may not be playing piano (or music in general), because I realise “he” (I have to put a male gender just to be “politically correct” here) is the LOVE OF MY LIFE. I shall never abandon him.
It might not be teaching (piano), as I thought I have loved it for so long and changed my career for him, and devoted hours and hours developing skills for him and in him; although recently I did find my love for him has not been the same anymore and might need to shake things up and change directions in the most dramatic way…
But I do understand, yes I can and I have been there.
For instance, I tried to teach the way everyone was doing here: focus on training in the shortest time frame possible for the highest grade ever in a youngest student in the whole planet, having students competing in every single competition one can find and making them play some horrible music that would not help them to grow just so they could fulfil some exam/competition/performance/school requirements. Ok, I never have done most of them at all. I couldn’t bring myself even close to just do the first one. They did happen only because I focused on what really mattered to me: instil in students their love for music, inspire them to create music, to enjoy and play the piano, provide them with knowledge necessary to understand and enjoy music, all in the long run and for the long run. Again, I am not saying whatever others do is wrong. They are right for their own accord and in their own terms, as long as they are happy with what they want. But I know that was not what I wanted and it will never be what I want and who as a teacher I want to be.
So, I struggled, I moved on, I struggled more, I moved on again, I stumbled, I sat, I paused, I stood up and started walking again, I splinted, I jogged, I was exhausted, I rested.
Now, I am sitting still whenever I can.
My newest hobby is “chillaxing”.
I always understand I cannot make anyone do anything they don’t want to do. But I did not ACCEPT that fact completely. I still thought from time to time, “if I just TRIED HARDER…”
No, I realise it’s not about trying harder.
Everyone has their own journey and their time to grow or not grow.
Everyone has their own rate of growth and progress.
No one can push them. No one ever did.
The real reason for those would truly grow and progress much faster than anyone else is because THEY THEMSELVES WANT TO GROW AND PROGRESS THAT FAST, AND THEY DID A LOT OF WORK TO GET THERE.
Even if they fall.
Even if they struggle.
Even when they just want to sit there and cry and feel all this pain inside them and that voice saying “I don’t want to do this anymore, why are you forcing me to do this, are you insane???”
They sit there and start asking themselves, “do I want to do this anymore? Do I want to stop now?”
They might not have the answer they want to hear. Instead, they might hear, “I don’t know. It’s too hard. I don’t know how to continue.”
If they tell themselves instead, “Ok, I am not doing this anymore.” And then they feel pain, they feel sadness, that voice inside them whisper, “I don’t want to stop actually. I still want to do this.”
Then they realise, they do want to do it.
But they must also ask themselves, “HOW can I do this better in the future to have less failure and hardship? How can I do it better to have more success and happiness in this journey?”
They must TRY HARDER.
They must BELIEVE, in themselves and whatever this is that they are doing.
They must also have OTHER PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE IN THEM.
They might need different and better guidance.
They need HELP.
They must REACH OUT.
They must find SOLUTION.
A solution that is different from all those solutions that they tried before and didn’t work for them.
If they decide to continue.
But I would also emphasise again, “You don’t have to do this.”
Don’t do this because everyone is doing it.
Don’t do this because you have already invested all this time and effort and energy and emotion.
Don’t do this for anyone else, not your family, your friends, your peers, your partner, your parents, or your teacher.
YOU CAN STOP NOW.
TODAY IS THE DAY TO SET YOURSELF FREE.
DO EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING FOR YOURSELF. IT’S YOUR DECISION TO CONTINUE OR STOP.
PLAY THE PIANO FOR YOURSELF AND NOT FOR ANYONE ELSE.
TEACH PIANO BECAUSE YOU WANT TO DO IT.
P.S. I love this post. One line says, “Mastery is an awesome thing to have, but it comes at great price. The idea of having mastery, without the price, is deeply deeply appealing. ‘I wish I had learned is saying ‘I wish I didn’t have to pay the price- I wish it was already paid back in the days that are already behind me’.”
To that I would sum up with one simple 8-word idiom, “There is no free lunch in the jungle.”