Last week, while sitting around the dinner table with Vera, she showed me some videos of her family playing music together. Vera’s family is considered a musical family. Her dad is a jazz musician, a piano tuner. Her mom is a singer. Her sister is a professional pianist. Vera’s interest is in drums but she can play pretty much any instrument.
As I saw them having fun with music, I told her a dream that I have had since I was a little girl. I’ve always wanted to play the piano. When I was little, I would beg my dad to let me take piano lessons. In contrast to the general perception of Asian parents wanting their children to learn 10 different instruments, my dad was the opposite. He thought learning music was a waste of money. I did manage to convince him to take me to piano classes but every time on the way to class, he would complain about how I was wasting his money. Nonetheless, I took a few months of class and stopped. Having a piano at home that I can play has always been a dream still.
I told Vera this story. She said she could borrow a piano from her parents. 3 days later, she did it! We carried a weighted keyboard up 3 floors to her apartment, set it up in the living room, adjusted the height to fit me. Dung dung dung! I was beyond happy and thankful. Thank you, Vera! I told her I’m never leaving her apartment ever.
My favorite piano piece is Nuvole Bianche by Ludovico Einaudi. I have listened to this song hundreds of times and always wish I could play it. I immediately set up my mind to learn to play this song before I leave Germany.
With that said, I first translated all the bean-sprout-looking notes to alphabetical notes that are easier for me to understand. Then, I dived into the first 16 bars of the song. I practiced again and again until I mastered the part. Then I moved on to the next 16 and the next. I start each section thinking “omg this is impossible to play”. Then I break everything down, slowly, practice the same bar again and again and again and again. Having learned to play the guitar, I know there are no tricks to this. All it takes is repetition. After about 20, 30 times doing the same thing, the muscle memory forms in my fingers. All of a sudden, I went from this is impossible to I am totally rocking it!
The feeling of my fingers on the keyboard is something magical. I almost feel like my fingers belong there. I am now 5 days into it and have learned almost half of the song. I sometimes play for 1-2 hours non-stop. It’s actually hard for me to stop once I get my fingers on the keyboard. I play the same thing again and again and find satisfaction in seeing myself improve slowly but surely.
Learning an instrument always reminds me that talent is overrated and that practice makes perfect. As long as I keep at something, put in the time and effort, I will ALWAYS get better. Not only in learning musical instruments, this also applies to everything in life. In building my business, my yoga and meditation practice, writing, drawing, all I focus on is not how good or bad I am but how much effort and time I put into what I do. Instead of finding satisfaction in the results, I find fulfillment in the process. Tony Robbins says “Repetition is the mother of skills” and “Progress equals happiness”. It’s not rocket science. Put in the time = Get better = Feel happy. It doesn’t take a genius to do this.
I want to thank Vera and her parents again for giving me this opportunity to fulfill a dream! I can’t wait to master this song!