To Focus on the Details

I don't remember how old I was, but one day, I was in a piano studio. I don't remember much, except that in the front of the store there was a red toy piano. A few days later, the furniture in our house was getting moved all over, and before I knew it, there was a piano in our house.

I was too little to play.

But I remember my daddy playing "With A Little Help From My Friends" by the Beatles on the piano. To me that's the piano, that song. 

I remember it was Winter, I was 5, there was Christmas tree, we were at church, and my mom introduced me to a girl who was wearing red. She looked ancient to me, but really she was only about 10 years older than I. She became my first teacher. 

And I started playing the piano. I took lessons from the time I was 5 to the time I was 18, when I moved out of the house. My first home in SLC had a piano, but I moved again, and the second home didn't have a piano. My parents bought me one. 

It was old, banged up, out of tune, but it was my piano. It carried a curse, everyone knew that I played the piano, meaning I was the designated piano player at church for forever. 

Joe and I got married, I moved away from that piano, it stayed in that house, and I lived without a piano for two years. Joe and I would play together in church sometimes, we'd play at family's houses, but we didn't play the piano at our house.

Until we moved, and that piano I left behind came with us. 

Joe has been playing the piano a lot. Joe is a concert pianist. Perfection and practice and strength resonates through every measure of music.



I had a flute teacher once who told me I probably get through life like I play the flute. Rely on the sweetness, the natural beauty, and hide the mistakes under that, getting what I want without needing the practice.

I took it as a compliment.

But she told me that I'd need practice regardless. The flute lessons became fun when I started focusing on the individual notes, the way they were supposed to be played, the way the music was supposed to flow together, the details.

But it's been two years. Little music in my life for two years.

I've been at home with little to do these days. Currently it is well over 100 degrees outside, well over 110 degrees on many days, and the heat is not something my body can handle right now. So I stay inside. I think I've exhausted Netflix of all its resources.

I went back to the piano today, and pulled out an old favorite, Clair De Lune. That song is easily one of the most beautiful songs ever written. It's a classic. It is so sweet and delicate and mysterious. So I played Clair De Lune.

My fingers have fantastic muscle memory. I may not pay attention to details, but I remember what's written in my fingers for years and years and years.

Clair De Lune did not come easy. It didn't the first time. And it didn't this time either.

I stumbled through the song, I relied on the beauty of the song, but it wasn't there. So I went back and remembered what that teacher of mine, to focus on the details.

It seems ridiculous. I've been playing piano for almost 20 years, I've taken piano lessons for 13 years, why should I have to focus on the details? Why should I have to continue to act like I'm learning? And it's even harder now. There's no one to tell me how to learn or what to learn. I've got only myself.

I think it's easy to get placid with our movement through life. After all, most of my readership consists of a great many people who have been doing "living" for a long time. But without focusing on the details, where we need the most work, there is no progress, and eventually you'll get to a point where you can't hide behind the beauty anymore. And though it is frustrating to retrace steps and try the same measure of music or life again and again and again... eventually emerges something truly beautiful.

I think I'm going to stick with this piano thing, learning on my own, for the sake of personal progress.

There's my deep thoughts for the day. Back to Netflix or something.

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