Pause • Reflect • Sundays on Pianodao
Written by ANDREW EALES
“Life is amazing. And then it’s awful.
And then it’s amazing again.
And in between the amazing and the awful,
it’s ordinary and mundane and routine.
Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful,
and relax and exhale during the ordinary.
That’s just living: heartbreaking, soul-healing,
amazing, awful, ordinary life.”
Hands up if your first thought, reading this quote, is that Knost’s observations about life equally apply to piano practice? That was certainly my first thought when, having posted this quote three years ago on social media it reappeared as a “memory” this week.
And one of my friends similarly wasted no time before commenting, “this is an excellent description of my average practise session”.
So let’s revisit the quote, substituting practice for life:
Is it a surprise that some days everything goes well at the piano, while other days nothing seems to work at all? Sometimes we clearly see where we are going, other times we can barely make out the shapes through the mist.
With this in mind, we perhaps need to question our perspective on practice each time we sit down at the piano, understanding that there will be unpredictable ups and downs, beyond our control, to which we need not attach special blame or emotion.
When I launched Pianodao back in 2015, I wrote:
I have offered plenty of tips on how to practise elsewhere, but believe we must understand that, regardless of technique or strategy, our practice experience is likely to vary considerably from one day to the next.
It’s crucial that we don’t jump from self-evaluation to self-condemnation. Recognising this basic point helps us to approach practice with a more healthy perspective, alleviating the stresses and frustrations that can blight our daily satisfaction at the piano.
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