Every other Wednesday I trek to campus for my piano lesson. Although Dr. B. wants right notes, right rhythm, right dynamics, and right technique — all at the same time — he is patient and kind as I work through my pieces. He offers suggestions and techniques to make difficult passages easier. In response I often explain why I play too soft, why my sfortzandos are timid, why my tempo wanders, why my memorization fails, or why I use certain fingers rather than others. He listens politely, though his assessment doesn’t change. The truth is some of my techniques are awkward and I lack attention to the composer’s nuances.
After last week’s session I pondered our lesson dialogue. I quickly realized the techniques I learned beginning at age 8 with Miss Smith and continued through a myriad of teachers in high school and college and adulthood really didn’t matter. Yes, learnings accumulate over many decades but what really matters is how I play today. My old learnings were obvious to Dr. B; my explanations were my excuses — explanations I hoped would soften the truth.
Here’s the challenge. Can I be present at my lesson, as if learning for the first time? Can I resist explaining how and why I have always done things? Can I embrace his suggestions even though it will require relearning on my part?
What do you do when offered new techniques or new methods or new ideas? Do you explain how you’ve always done things or are you willing to set your habits aside and try the new?
Until next Tuesday….