If music ever makes us feel uneasy or weary, it’s not because of its own “fault”; It will always be because we wanted music to fit our own small-time callings.
Music is never at fault. It has a life of its own and can never be chained to ambitions by mere mortals, as we all are. Music is the one who decides upon us, I’m afraid, and not the other way around. Music by itself never traps you. It will never set you up for a trick or make you feel vulnerable. Music will never fail you. It will always be a most supporting companion.
So, music stops making sense and disappoints, when we expect to tame it and force it to fulfil our needs. And, when music doesn’t do what we want it to do, what do we do? Amongst others, we start comparing ourselves with the others. And the others are no less than mere mortals like us, and they equally compare themselves with others, they have needs and passions, and clashing thoughts, too.
Coming to piano, we often compare our playing with that from people whom we consider accomplished. “Not a bad thing”, a wise and principled teacher might say to his pupil. “You should always look up and compare yourself to the best!” he might have innocently said to his student. But when comparing ourselves to people with accomplishments, accomplishments that we, individually, see important, we are putting ourselves up for inconvenient truths; we will simply learn that we are, naturally, not as good as those people.
So, the faults that will spring from comparing ourselves with our peers indiscriminately, can be endless; we compare ourselves to people with different life-stories than ours, people that have reached their own limits through their own, unique, musical journey, that we cannot possibly comprehend. We put ourselves against beings that have had a different provenance in their musical lives, and will more certainly have a different ending. That comparing endeavour on our part is arguably not a reasonable thing to do.
Having said that, however, we can never escape from our humaness. Due to our very nature, we will never be able graduate to full growth, and so we will naturally compare, gloat, hate, gleefully anticipate the failure of our peers, smile horribly to their artistic “defeat”, and all this to be able to play some wonderful music.
Is this horribleness worth it, though?
Oh yes, I think it is.
Good luck on your musical endeavours
Copyright © 2020 by Nikos Kokkinis
Many thanks to Coffee Geek for their wonderful image used in this article. For those of you coffee aficionados, visit their wonderful website by following the link below:
Did you like what you have just read? Piano practising has been offering unique articles for almost a decade now. If you would like this site to continue its growth and keep offering its knowledge to pianists all over the world, do consider becoming a gold member: