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I know the feeling… January 31, 2007

Posted by betweennaps in Asians, Childhood, Funny, Life, Procrastination.
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girl on piano

Learning Piano November 17, 2006

Posted by betweennaps in Childhood.
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As a kid, piano was the bane of my existence.  I never figured out that music was supposed to be something pleasurable until junior high, long after I quit.  It didn’t make sense to me why people would want to play the piano when a computer could make the same sounds, only without missing any keys and with perfect timing.  My parents used to make my older brother and me practice an hour per day.  Even on Christmas we had to finish piano before opening gifts.  

Various tactics I used to avoid practicing seemed reasonable at the time, although in retrospect they were really quite lame.  There was a bed behind the piano bench and between songs I would lie backwards and watch the second hand on the clock move until I thought my parents might become suspicious of the prolonged silence.  Sometimes I would try to avoid practicing in hopes that my parents would forget.  Somehow they never did.

“Did you finish your piano?”

“Ummffffrggghhh.”

“What?”

“I already told you.”

That never worked either.  Eventually my parents gave up and after three years they let me quit on the condition that I couldn’t say that I never had the chance to learn.  I happily agreed. 

Little did I know that I would one day regret the decision.  I admit that at the time, piano was overwhelmingly painful, and it didn’t help that everytime I would leave the room, even to go to the bathroom, my dad would angrily ask, “what are you doing out here?”  But I still regret it.  My older brother played through his freshman year of high school, and my younger brother is still playing now.  He’s 15 and is making $20 per half-hour for teaching younger students.  The fact that virtually all my Asian friends (the majority of my friends) play either the piano or the violin makes me feel even more inadequate.

Now I’m trying to learn how to play again.  I don’t feel like my ability to learn has decreased significantly.  (Maybe it has, but increased motivation makes up for the difference.)  However, now I have significantly less time and resources to put into the process.  I’ll never be a great piano player, but at least I’ve gained an appreciation for the activity and I appreciate that my parents were willing to pay for lessons.

 When I have kids, I’m definitely going to make the learn an instrument.  (In theory I’ll have four kids so they can form a quartet.)  Talking to my peers who took piano long enough to be proficient, it seems like everyone hates it as a child.  Those who stuck with it mostly say that their parents didn’t have a set amount of time for them to practice, but they had enough competitions that they were forced to practice frequently.

I also haven’t figured out if hitting your child makes him a better or worse pianist.  I have two male friends who both had their mothers stand behind them with a ruler when they practiced and would hit them every time they stopped playing.  One is now my piano teacher.  The other one quit when his father finally had enough and threw his piano books into the snow.  We have another family friend who used to lock the daughter in the garage when she didn’t practice her piano.  She turned out to be quite a pianist.  I wonder if that would have made me a better pianist.  Somehow I doubt it.  Regardless, I only regret the inability to play piano, not missing out on being locked in the garage.