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Seeing Ourselves in the Mirror of Music

We can learn A LOT about someone by listening to his or her piano playing.   It’s much harder to observe ourselves.

Regarding adult piano students, here are some of the more common STRENGTHS.

1.  A love for the sound and feel of a piano. 2.  A willingness to be challenged, in a big way. 3.  A willingness to be humbled.     4.  A willingness to sacrifice - time, expense, physical and emotional effort. 5.  A willingness to reveal who we are to anyone listening to our playing. 6.  A willingness to search - for beauty, for meaning, for daily purpose.

Here are some of the common weaknesses, on which I shall elaborate.

1.  An unwillingness to allow ourselves to make mistakes, as demonstrated most frequently by either pausing within the music or going back and “fixing” things.  Other examples include saying things such as “no” or “wrong” or “!%#@” while playing.  Stopping and starting the music over is another technique frequently employed by those who have learned  through years of academic training how to Get Things Right.

2.  Shyness. This manifests in “quiet” playing, as if trying to hide both the music and the musician.  This is heart-wrenching for me to witness and requires absolute devotion on the part of the teacher if it is to be overcome.

3.  An inability to be “childlike.”  It’s really hard for adults to simply relax and “play” the piano.  “I can play so much better at home,” students tell me.   Of course.  But why is this true for all of us?  

4.  Selflessness.  Yes, you read that right.  We should love ourselves, as we love others.  Putting a little music into the world is not selfish.  

5.  Difficulty in commitment.  I’m not sure where to begin with this one.  Perhaps we’ll save this for another conversation.

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