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Some of you may not know that I am a pianist! I began taking piano lessons when I was 6 years old. I took it off and on all the way through high school, and then I studied Church Music in college. I fell in love with performing and obtained a masters degree in piano performance after that. It’s something that I don’t talk to a lot of people about because I am not really one to toot my own horn. I’ve always been reluctant to share my playing online because I didn’t want to come across as proud. When I dig a little deeper, I think the main reason I haven’t shared a whole lot is because I am afraid to share my imperfections.
It took me a while to confidently call myself a pianist. Since there are so many other pianists better than me, why should I call myself something that sounds so elite? I’m not a strong improvisor nor a strong sight reader. My scales aren’t perfect, my technique isn’t flawless, and my melody lines are never as shaped as I want them to be. I struggled harmonizing melodies in my advanced keyboard skills class.
I’m not a piano nerd. I don’t sit around listening to different performers all day. I don’t watch the Cliburn Competition when it comes on. When there are so many pianists that know all of these things and are so incredibly talented, why would I group myself with them?
Can you hear the problem with all of these thoughts? They’re all about comparing myself to other pianists! Comparison is more than the thief of joy, it’s the thief of everything. If I am constantly comparing myself to other pianists and telling myself I’m not good enough, I would never share the gifts that I do have with anyone! One thing I’m sure I’m not supposed to do with my talent is sit on it and never let it out. Music, like any art, demands sharing!
This week I’ve been working through the Cultivate What Matters PowerSheets. There is a section about breaking your identity boxes and letting go of the things you’ve unknowingly told yourself you can’t do. I’ve labeled myself as an inferior pianist. All that’s doing is keeping me from sharing music! I’m not growing, I’m not progressing, I’m not learning. If I say instead, “I’m getting better at sight reading,” or “I’m working on improvising” then I’m learning and growing.
One of my goals for 2018 is to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. If I focus on all of the things I’m not good at, it can turn into fears that rule my life. The thing is, it’s not about me at all! Music is about sharing with others. And those people aren’t sitting around waiting to judge my playing and point out its flaws. Maybe some people are, but I’m not in music school anymore, so that doesn’t matter. Music inspires people! Music encourages people and lifts them up! Why would I not want to do that?
It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress. I’m not a perfect pianist, but I do love playing and performing. I don’t want to give up because I’m not perfect. I’d rather practice and make progress. I know what I like and what I excel at. I prefer Debussy to Beethoven. I’m better at Muczynski than Mozart.
To be honest, I haven’t practiced consistently since my graduate piano recital which was 2 YEARS ago. I paid for a degree, but I haven’t been using it! One of my goals this year is to practice consistently. To hold myself accountable to that, I’m going to be sharing my music with all of you!
My goal is 12 pieces in 12 months. They can be small pieces or bigger pieces, they can be short or long, but every month I want to share something. It won’t be perfect. In fact, it may be very flawed, but that’s not the point. The point is that I’m progressing and that I’m sharing music instead of holding on to it for myself.
Here’s to 2018 and to accomplishing goals!!