Find Joy in the Journey
I grew up in a household of professional musicians.
The strains of Beethoven (sometimes polished, sometimes hackneyed) were an ever-present feature of my childhood as students of all ages shuttled in and out to study piano with my parents. When it came to my own music education, I largely took the auspicious opportunities for granted. I studied piano from time to time, first with my parents, then later with wonderful teachers my parents hired in an attempt to keep me interested.
One reason we push music lessons during childhood is because children are more apt than adults to take a long-term approach to learning. It does take several years, or more, to become anything approaching an advanced pianist. But the greatest benefits are yielded many years beyond that.
I’m referring to the intangible life lessons that unconditional dedication can bring.
Famed jazz musician Bill Evans was once asked by his prodding brother Harry for shortcuts to mastering jazz. Bill told his elder brother that he didn’t want to deprive Harry of the joy of finding those insights himself.
I often tell my students, especially adults, that to learn the piano means forgoing expectations and deadlines. Enjoy the learning process. The journey matters more than the destination.
And so it is with the most important aspects of our lives. Relationships, careers, spiritual growth — all take decades of commitment and expectations that defy instant gratification. I’ve spent 20 years actively working to improve my pianistic abilities. At no point in that journey did I expect to “get it” or “master” this incredibly complex instrument. Music and I, we’re on a journey, and that journey is the final destination. T.S. Eliot said it best and much more succinctly.
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
Edward Brown is an active writer for Madeworthy magazine and a piano teacher. He welcomes inquiries about private piano lessons and can be reached at 469-487-6973 and firstname.lastname@example.org.