The piano world isn’t suited to computer science majors

“Michael, I like what you’re saying about how the piano world isn’t suited to CS majors. I’m a CS major and I’ve felt this myself. But, I kinda have some doubts. Like…don’t I have to be diligent to get good at piano? I mean, classical music is complicated. There’s a lot of detail.”

I get your concern. There is indeed a lot of detail in classical music. It takes time to get good at it.

But no, you don’t have to be diligent. I bet you got that idea from people who pride themselves on being diligent (and there’s no shortage of those in the piano world).

You learned to speak your native language without being diligent. You learned all sorts of skills. No, laziness is the way to go.

Embrace your laziness. It’s your greatest gift.

“I heard that I need to avoid bad habits and that’s why I’m physically uncoordinated at the piano. But, I have some doubts about this. It seems reasonable that I’d be OK making mistakes…that’s how you learn, after all. Still, people are so insistent that bad habits must be avoided at all costs.”

Yeah, of course, they’re insistent. They’re trying to justify why they suck. Their explanation is that way back in the mists of time, they got off on the wrong foot.

No, they suck because they’re doing it wrong. They could change if they wanted to, but change it scary. Better to say change is impossible.

“Then, why do I have trouble with piano technique? I heard you say it’s because I’m not committing to basic physical actions and a willingness to make mistakes. That sounds good to me…but I’ve heard so many other teachers talk about complicated movements and techniques. I’m torn.”

You’re torn because you want results and you’re hearing mixed messages. That’s understandable.

I suggest you try committing to basic physical actions and a willingness to make mistakes, and see what happens. They’re not mutually exclusive. You can even do the complicated movements while keeping those simple commitments.

Get yourself lined up internally.

“I took piano lessons in the past, and my teacher was always frustrated because I wasn’t musical enough. She kept trying to get me to ‘feel the phrase’ and I had no clue what she was talking about. But, there must be truth in what she’s saying. After all, I’m a logical, intellectual person. How do I make sense of this?”

Most piano teachers are not logical, intellectual people. In fact, they see those traits as negative. So, of course, they’re going to talk to you that way.

That’s their own insecurity speaking. Don’t get sucked into it.

You have strengths and you should use them. Your way of conceptualizing things can be intellectual and logical. You don’t have to pander.

By the way, it’s not true that you’re not an emotional person. All people are. You just somehow learned not to see yourself that way. The life force inside you is there either way, even if other people don’t recognize it. You can trust it.

“What you just said sounds a bit New Agey to me. I mean, I like the idea of something being inside me even if other people don’t recognize it, but I’m skeptical about ‘life force’ and words like that.”

It’s fine to be skeptical. They’re just words. Don’t take them too seriously.

Do the exercises. Practice. Let your mind decide for itself how to talk about your reality.


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