Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Practicing to Fail

Perhaps I should say "practicing to falter."

I had one of the most interesting piano lessons yesterday.  As you know, my very first piano recital is on Sunday.  After seven months of lessons, having not been able to read much music or play more than "Good King Wenceslas" (the easy version) when I began in September, I had said I would play at the spring recital alongside all of the kiddos; I've been practicing my piece, "Finlandia," for three months.  And then, well, emergency.

I have debated whether I could play since having my surgery.  Everyone, family and piano teacher included, is encouraging and understanding--play if you can, don't if you can't, but don't stress about it.  I've practiced the transitions where I move my hands so that they are smoother; I've practiced the timing because sometimes my count is just a bit off.  I've even practiced in front of people--the kids, Mama, Gommie in-laws, friends--so I get used to playing for others. Some days, I get through my song just fine; other days, I hit so many wrong notes.  Pain and narcotics usage definitely has an effect.

So yesterday, my teacher and I practiced how to mess up.  No faces, no squeals, no waving my hands in frustration.  Play through.  Pretend you didn't mess up.  Slow down if it's a part that troubles you (or speed up right through it!)  If it's an egregious mistake (several wrong notes in a row), start the phrase over.  If it's the first few notes, start the whole song over.  She says that everyone messes up, that oftentimes only the players notice.  It's a very forgiving audience.

And you know what?  Recognizing that I knew how to fix a mistake--acknowledging that I was going to make a mistake and should therefore not aim for perfect (which, my teacher called a "crapshoot!")--freed up my playing immensely and I made fewer mistakes!  Some of the paralysis left.

So, for now, I'm definitely playing "Finlandia" on Sunday, mistakes and all.


(Because I know people like an update, yesterday was really good.  I stayed on top of my pain meds and had a good, useful, relaxing day.  I have follow-ups with cardiologist on Thurs and surgeon on Friday.  Expecting it all to be fine.)

1 comment:

  1. And when you have done play 'The battle hymn of the Republic' as an encore; they will not know what has hit them. I had it played at mt father's funeral, he enjoyed The South.

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