Getting Better


So, you’re playing the piano a few hours a week, making progress.

Getting better.

Because progress comes at the expense of focused time, it appears logical that you’re “not good enough yet”. You could obviously be spending more time in a more focused way. Almost anyone could, on anything.

Thinking in this way can lead to magnificent results. There are great players all over the world whose constant self-deprication and unwillingness to accept they have “done enough” result in amazing performances that move audiences in inspiring, life-changing ways.

You will get better if you spend focused time at the piano. That’s a constant I find heartwarming and exciting.

That said, it is vital to assess your primary motivation. For me, the point of playing is to enjoy the feeling associated with engaging with and communicating musical ideas.

To achieve this, “getting better” isn’t really a goal at all, unless the music I want to play is demanding in a specific way I’m not currently adept at. In that case, I may need a period of focused time.

To have “getting better” as a primary motivation is very inappropriate to most people in most areas of life and causes all kinds of problems.

If the point of speaking was to get better at speaking, it would be a pretty bizarre state of affairs. Most people would speak only during speaking lessons and during designated speaking practice times, occasionally doing a nerve-wracking public speech (which is exactly how it is with music for many people).

Of course, the point of speaking is to communicate ideas (and the point of listening, by the way, is not to assess the quality of the speaking, but to receive those ideas). If you play the piano to explore and communicate ideas, it’s not appropriate to give yourself a hard time over your technical shortcomings in general. Just focus some time on them specifically and return to feeling glad about how capable you are.

Chances are, of course, you’re a fledgling communicator of music, whereas you’re an expert communicator of language. This may be frustrating, of course, but I don’t believe we turn children into great speakers by getting them to believe they need to get better at it. They just do.

You just will.

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