Both have given lessons to other people and both of them have played and led the worship services at my hometown church for years, heck, decades now. You get the point. Loads of talent.
However, I do not play the piano. At least nothing more than banging around on some absolute basic songs. You know what I mean? The songs that you would expect a five-year-old to pick up fairly quickly with proper instruction.
Hot Cross Buns, that sort of business.
Yet, my inability to play anything meaningful on the piano doesn’t stem from a lack of understanding when it comes to music. It doesn’t find it’s root in bad instruction. I can’t even blame it on a lack of a working instrument.
I read music pretty well. I had to perfectly capable instructors at my disposal for a large chunk of my life. I even had a piano in the house for the first 24 years or so of my life.
I just didn’t really want to learn, and that’s okay, for the most part. You can’t really make a person learn something that they aren’t interested in. Yet, I look back at an opportunity that I had to pick myself up and dust off from a mistake made in these regards and I’m a little disappointed in myself.
See, I did take lessons for a while. My aunt gave lessons to practically every child in Louisville and she set aside a slot for me every single week. I had some fairly simple to understand books to work through and she would give me excellent instruction.
The problem was getting me to sit down in front of the piano and practice. At that age (I think I was in Jr. High), I could think of a million other things that were of more interested than practicing my lesson.
Even with the knowledge that I was expected to perform at an upcoming recital at my home church, I sat with my hands wrapped firmly around a Nintendo controller instead of across the ivory.
Week after week, Nancy would ask me how frequently (or if at all) did I practice my lesson. Sometimes I had and sometimes I had not. Then, the day arrived for the recital.
Child after child finished their performances to the applaud of the audience. Finally, it was my time. I was fairly certain that I would fail miserably. Was this a self-fulfilling prophecy? I mean, what else should I expect? I had not practiced nearly as much as was necessary for this moment.
I took my seat at the piano bench, sat up my music and put my fingers in my starting position. Things started out okay. Maybe I was going to pull this off after all. It really wasn’t a super long number anyways. I didn’t have to move any pages or anything. Then it happened.
I missed a note, and then another.
This threw my concentration off just enough to forget where I was at. And, because I didn’t know the notes good enough, I couldn’t pick it back up.
I just sat there.
It never even occurred to me to start over. I just sat and stared at the keys while everyone there just sat and stared at me. Finally, I just got up and walked back to my seat. I think I said, “Sorry, I don’t know it” as I refused to make eye contact with anyone in the room.
I don’t remember anything from that point on. However, I never played the piano again.
I just quit. I was done. Actually, you could probably make a solid case that I never really got started but that is beside the point.
Yet, none of this is the point that I wanted to make at the beginning. This isn’t what disappoints me.
What really gets under my skin is that I quit.
I stayed down.
I refused to get up and dust myself off.
As an adult, I don’t want my kids to quit on the things that they try. I want them to stick it out. But, I didn’t.
I did the exact same thing with high school baseball and basketball.
I wasn’t naturally good at it so I stopped trying. See, this is the thing that we have to get into our heads and also repeat to our children.
Nothing comes naturally at first.
Anytime we take on a new endeavor, there is a learning curve. It doesn’t matter if it is a hobby or a new job, we all have to put in the time to learn how to do it right.
And, most of all, get back up when we fall down.
Life is Strange. Live it Well.