February 24, 2015

The Importance of Playing in Practice.


Lift your wrists!

I can hear myself yelling this.

Over and over.

On repeat.

As my beautiful boys practice piano. They practice their songs, then they lose focus.

Or do they?

I dreamed last night that as my children were practicing piano, I yelled at my younger son for “noodling”— playing music by ear that he made up as he played. I told him that if he did not practice his lessons, he would forever remain an average pianist (like his mother) and never be the great pianist he has the ability to become.

I saw my son’s face. I saw that I’d crushed his spirit.

I woke up so sad.

I’d broken my son and it broke me as well.

Thankfully it was only a dream.

Unfortunately, I have said similar things to both of them in “real life.”

I haven’t broken them yet, but I know it is possible.

The mommy guilt is overwhelming sometimes.

I want my sons to be good men. I want them to live their lives to their potential, and surprise even themselves with the greatness inside of them.

The greatness that I can see, looking at them now.

I want them to always freely share their gifts with the world.

I want them to always experience joy when they are doing what they love.

Lift your wrists.

They say it takes 10,000 hours to achieve mastery in whatever you are doing: a sport, an instrument, anything. Practice is imminently important.

But so is noodling.

For a pianist, noodling is a physical expression of joy.

I was not—ever—a noodler. I have never been able to play an instrument without music. I always color within the lines. I always follow the rules.

Joy comes when I step outside.

I read somewhere that Elton John’s mother bought a record every Friday, started him on the piano at age four, and introduced him to rock and roll. I also read somewhere—although I cannot find the quote now— that she encouraged him to stay at the piano as long as he wanted and play whatever he wanted to, and that to this day, this is the way he creates new music—sitting with the lyrics in front of him, and playing the piano until he finds the song in the keys.

I am working daily to be that kind of mother. I want my children to fly. I want them to be unencumbered by rules.

I want them to practice—so they can continue to grow musically, and I want them to noodle, so they can fly creatively.

I promise to be gentler with my admonishments.

Keep playing, my beautiful boys. But please remember to lift your wrists. You cannot fly if you do not stretch your wings.



How Being a Lousy Piano Student Saved My Life.

Author:  Kendra Hackett

Editor:  Renee Picard

Photo:  Sarah Korf on Flickr



Read 2 Comments and Reply

Read 2 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Kendra Hackett