When we look at people who are skilled at anything, we often think it’s impossible to be able to do what they do.
They make it look so easy and effortless, but the road getting to that point was anything but, my road was no different.
I was 5 years old and my Grams was a skilled pianist. She’d play her favorite piece for me and I’d stare at her hands in wonder. She gave me her piano and I immediately wanted lessons.
I thought I’d be able to play what my Grams could play, but lesson after lesson I could only play short songs that all seemed to sound the same.
I practiced and practiced and still, I couldn’t play that piece she had played for me. I just couldn’t read the music. I had no clue how to read those rhythms or what certain symbols/notes were. I couldn’t even reach the notes because my hand was too small. I wanted to quit.
Several times. I cried to my mother that playing piano wasn’t fun anymore and she refused to let me throw my years of lessons down the drain along with my “hereditary talent”.
I kept taking those lessons and I kept practicing even when I didn’t want to in hopes that one day I’d be able to look at that sheet music and be able to play it. I practiced hours a day, every day. So much that my hands and back hurt.
Years later I got my acceptance letter into music school (Crane) and I thought I had made it.
My Crane School of Music Acceptance Letter
Wrong. I got into music school and realized how many pianists there were who were better than me, and how much work I’d have to put in to get to that level. So I practiced harder and longer.
I ate, slept, breathed piano. I gave my senior recital still feeling like I wasn’t good enough and that I couldn’t learn a piece without my teacher. It wasn’t until after I graduated that I realized I had made it to my Grams’ level. I sat down at my piano, took out that sheet music and I taught myself how to play the piece my Grams played for me all those years ago.
I could read all the notes, understand all the symbols and rhythms, and with enough practice, I perfected it. By myself.
This skill isn’t something that comes without work. All of those musicians that you stand in awe of put in the blood, sweat, and tears to become that good.
After years of playing, I can now sit down, open a book, and play anything if I practice. You may only want to play simple songs, but the principle still applies: you’re not going to just wake up one day and be able to play those songs; you’re going to have to walk over to that piano and put in the time.
I started from not knowing anything and worked my way up, and so will you, trust me.
I’ve thrown a lot of books across rooms in my day out of frustration, but I’m glad I never gave up. I hope the same goes for you, but I must say that the road was a lot easier with someone by my side showing me the ropes. It would’ve taken a lot longer to teach myself and I probably would’ve taught myself wrong.