Moving in the right direction

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our piano playing that we don’t see the “bigger picture” regarding our musical development. To help us see this, it’s often easier to put our musical development in perspective when we’re studying a non-musical subject, like learning language or a sports event.

I was reminded of this while attending a baseball game yesterday in which my teenage son participated.

Even though we, as a society, tend to focus on stats and scores when it comes to sports, I find the “inner game of sports” to be the most fascinating aspect of them. And, it’s highly relevant to our musical development.

Because of Covid-related sports cancellations and a few other factors, my son hadn’t pitched in a baseball game since last November. Therefore, he was a little “rusty” when the coach put him in to pitch during the final inning.

The score was tied which meant that my son’s team would lose the game if a single runner scored. Well, he started out by throwing a series of pitches that were too high, and he walked the first batter.

Here’s where things get interesting.

In a case like this, the pitcher can go in either of two directions. They either become tense and mentally scattered, or they become calm and focused. As I waited to see how the end of the game would unfold, I noticed that my son started throwing better pitches, and struck out the next batter.

Even though the next couple of batters ended up hitting the ball and the other team won the game, what interested me the most was the overall direction my son went in. As the other team edged towards winning the game, he actually began pitching better. (Luckily, his coach noticed this too and congratulated him.)

The overall direction is what we need to focus on as musicians.

If we’re unfocused as we sit down on the piano bench, what comes next? Do we become agitated? Or do we take a few deep breaths and listen more intently to the music in order to focus?

Sure, we may be having “one of those days” when nothing sounds right. But what’s happening over the course of the whole week? Or we improving in the long term? Then, yes, we can easily accept an “off day” as long as the overall direction is going well.

Here’s the great news: You are talented and you love music. This guarantees that as long as you get to the piano with consistency and enjoy yourself, you’ll remain headed in the right direction! If you can remember this, you’ll enjoy yourself more and yes, you’ll also improve more as a pianist and musician.

Enjoy the journey, and “let the music flow!”


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