Practice makes perfect

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 10:27 PM

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When my lovely friend invited me to lunch at her house last week, she asked if I would play her something on the piano when I came.

(Isn't that just the sweetest, most romantic thing? I was utterly charmed. Do you remember a time when people used to read aloud, or quilt, or play music in the parlor, instead of just "hanging out"? No? Me neither. I think maybe I read about it in a book.)

So, I played a piece that I have been working very hard on for the last couple of weeks, and then she responded by playing another piece from the same book, which by coincidence she too had recently learned.

We compared stories of tricky broken chords, page turns, and editorial fingering decisions. We marveled together at how deceptively difficult and rewarding these pieces had been to learn.

(And let's face it, every girl is more willing to spend hours at the keyboard, plunking out one note at a time, if she gets to picture Mr. Darcy striding in his morning coat across a field to sweep Lizzie off her feet while she's doing it.)

My friend stopped and smiled, remembering something. "You know", she said, "I was talking to my sister, who is a very accomplished violinist, about this a few days ago. I was complaining how long it took me to learn this piece, taking one measure at a time, playing it over and over for hours on end.

My sister just laughed and said, in a tone of mock horror, 'what, you mean, like - practicing?'"

Let's call it a "duh" moment.

Yes, Moms and Dads of the world, it turns out that you were right: the only real way to get good at something is to work at it very hard. Over and over. First you are lousy and you hate it, then you get a little better and you tolerate it, then you are good and you have learned to love it.

Who knew?

Comments (6)

I love this piece. I wish I had known that practice would make playing easier when I was young and learning the flute. I stopped too soon, and now I feel like I'm too old to go back and pick it up again.

Oh, Mr. Darcy, just tell me that you did it all for me and I'll play whatever you want (certainly not as well as you, Rach, considering I just pound out some chords and I'm done)!

Oh my goodness - how fun is that! I totally want to jam with you guys. grrrr... that I live so far away. Isn't it so rewarding to have your hard work (aka practicing) pay off. It's the best feeling!

Wow, thanks, Rach! I was delighted that you obliged my request. :) and it is definitely BEYOND coincidence that we both happened on the same epiphany, resulting in mastering a song from the same movie! Ha!

What a sweet, charming post! :) Enjoy "Liz on Top of the World!"

I love hearing you play that. :)

I think the trick is not being afraid to practice something you want to learn as an adult. As kids, we often don't have the patience for it, but as adults, I think we don't have the determination. You always feel like a heel being a novice to something, but you're only a novice for a little bit, and then, often very quickly you have something to show for it!

I know you know this is the case with my piano playing. I have been saying FOR YEARS I wanted to learn to play the piano, and you bought me a simplified hymn book when I was 16. It was 10 years after that before I decided I had to get serious about it to accomplish that goal. And you know what? It's still really hard, but I'm getting better and soon I will be able to accompany from the Children's Songbook and hymnbook as has so long been a goal of mine! We will see the day, people! We will see the day!