Thoughts On Music and Life

On a recent trip to Tucson I stayed in a home which had a baby grand piano. It also had no television so I was inspired to find some sheet music and dust off my pianist fingers and see what I could remember from ten years of grade school lessons. One beautiful thing about learning to read music is that you never forget how. You don’t have to be Mozart but if you know how to decipher the notes on the page in front of you then, with patience and practice, you can play most anything.

I experimented with music from a variety of levels until I found the one where I was comfortable. At this level I could mostly play through the pieces without a lot of stops and starts and sound reasonably decent pretty quickly. I included a couple of pieces from levels just above this as well, to keep engaged and challenged. My right brain started dancing with joy as I found myself getting lost in the music, so focused on what I was doing that I was unaware of time (and was late for work a couple of mornings because I was having too much fun).

This morning I was playing a piece that seemed relatively easy except for this darned part in the middle that I kept stumbling on. I forced myself to hang on those few bars and bang out each hand individually and then together over and over until I could play without mistake. For a piece that seemed easy this took a painstakingly long time but the minute it all came together a giant smile crept over my face and I realized now the piece was complete and my effort had created a moment of perfection.

It occurred to me that life is like this. We each have areas we struggle and it would be easier to skip over those places and just focus on the parts of us that we feel really good about already. But until and unless we place a deep emphasis on those areas that need work and do the work persistently until we get it right, we live like beautiful masterpieces that have a hole somewhere in the middle.

Ego stroking and validation feel good in the moment, as does being praised for playing “most of” a song right but as the artist you know that troublesome section will nag at you and no amount of adoration can replace the satisfaction of getting it right so that the entire piece flows off the fingertips.