Everything made absolute sense. I would run through my scales, practice my chords, my little exercise pieces. I was, if not talented, dutiful. I put in the time.
Then it would be my weekly lesson. Sitting there with Mr. X, I would perch very uncomfortably on the bench, and play like a guy who had no hands. Nothing made much sense. I was nervous, uncoordinated. My fingers would stumble, and he’d keep time, not with a metronome, but hitting a number-two pencil against the keyboard cover, so unnerving.
And my mind would race. All kinds of thoughts would run through my mind, most of them unrelated to music, a torrent of nonsense.
He’d have me play the same piece over and over, the same way I had practiced it, dutifully, but with none of the accuracy I had when I sat alone at home.
We’d barely get through the little pieces I was supposed to have mastered over the past week. He’d maybe check off a few, but then he’d reassign ones that I had butchered more than the others.
It was not the last time I had a lesson with Mr. X, but it was the last time I would play my practice pieces for him after actually practicing them all week, sometimes more than the expected 30 minutes.
At the end of this particular lesson he said, “Lanny, you really need to practice. It sounds like you don’t do it very much at all. Sometimes I think you’re wasting your parents’ money.”
I sat silent.
From then on, I really barely did practice anymore. I lost interest. My parents noticed my lack of presence at the keyboard, had to nag me to get on the stick. I had become the stereotypical kid who is forced to take lessons against his will.
I regret it now, of course. I wish, even if I played like a junky needing a fix when I was in his presence, that I’d kept up the lessons for the meditational value at home. I can’t play anything anymore. It’s no exaggeration to say that when I sit down at the keyboard, I can barely play a scale. Benny Goodman said that you’ll never play Carnegie Hall unless you practice your scales every day.
Yeah, well, yeah.
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Today’s word is
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