Finding meaning at the piano

Yesterday I wrote about something that goes to the heart of our musical lives: why we often don’t play as much piano as we’d like to.

What’s missing?

Basically, there’s something “missing” in those moments when we look at our piano, feel the desire to play, and then keep on walking. Yes, sometimes it’s simply “time” that’s missing. We’re busy doing something else. But more often, something else is missing.

Think for a moment. What exactly is missing in those moments?

What’s missing is meaning. An emotional connection to the moment that puts a value on playing or practicing our instrument.

Each act of playing piano doesn’t have to necessarily be connected to the larger meaning of our lives, although yes, it can be.

Rather, there simply has to be some perception of “meaning,” like we feel with our other daily activities.

We eat breakfast because we’re hungry. We snack because we’re bored. We pick up our kids from soccer practice because otherwise it would take them 5 hours to walk home. We chat with our friend on the phone because it makes us feel good to be connected. We exercise because we’re trying to lose weight. We eat dessert because we’ve worked hard all week and deserve a reward. We go to sleep at 10:00 because we want to feel alert tomorrow morning when we go to work.

See what I mean? There’s meaning in all of these things.

So the key to playing more piano is to recognize the meaning of why we want to play piano. To feel the meaning.

I’m practicing this piece because it’ll make my wife smile when she comes home from work this evening. I’m going to repeat this challenging left hand part 20 times today so it will be easier to add the right hand to it tomorrow. I’m going to learn the chords to that new pop song because my son would enjoy singing it to my accompaniment. I’m going to learn 5 songs that my husband plays on guitar so we can spend more time together. I want to express my emotional life through my music. I’m going to play piano every day because it’s what I was put on earth to do. I’m going to sightread for 10 minutes each day so I can learn music easier 6 months from now. I’m going to play piano every day because I;m always picking up after the family and I deserve some quality “me” time!

You get the idea. Without meaning, there’s no way we’re going to bother with sitting down and playing, no matter how many times we scold ourselves for not doing so.

So right now, ask yourself “What meaning do I get out of playing piano.” Identify the meaning, and then experience it at the piano.

Have fun!

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2 thoughts on “Finding meaning at the piano”

  1. Your blog comment is so right on. I’ve had the same thoughts flow through my mind many times as I walked past my beloved piano and thought, I should really take a few minutes and sit down at her.

    • Glad this helps, Frank. It’s amazing, right? We could be sitting at the piano and enjoying it so much, in many more moments than we actually let ourselves enjoy. Thanks for touching base 🙂


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