loren Eric Swanson: Why you shouldn't be too sad your child quit piano

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Why you shouldn't be too sad your child quit piano

When I was growing up I took a year of piano lessons and lacking both skill and disipline to practice, quit after one year of lessons, a recital and a trip to the Dairy Queen for a large butterscotch milk shake. The only thing I can still play is Chopsticks and The Indian Drum Song...on a good day. Because I like music and enjoy listening to talented musicians I've sometimes thought what it would have been like if I had continued on with my piano lessons. But this past week, through direct observation, I've come to a reasoned conclusion that I made the right decision by quitting. (If anything I wish I could play just one complicated song well, like my friend Brian Birdsall who knows but one song and can play Midnight Sonata flawlessly then mumbles something about not wanting to call attention to himself when asked to play a second tune.) I just want to make the observation that there are some incredibly talented pianists who spend their time playing background music in empty lounges. Maybe heaven is applauding...but probably not.


At Saturday, October 21, 2006 9:53:00 AM, Anonymous Art Walsh said...

OK, so I am one of seven children. Six have at one time or another been professional musicians. That gene somehow skipped me over. It was embarassing to have siblings who could play multiple instruments and sing on key when I couldn't carry a tune in a wheelbarrow. (When I was in church choir, they formed a humming section for me.)
But at age 50 I read about how trying to learn a musical instrument helped the right side of your brain or something, so I picked up an Irish Pennywhistle (also called a flageolet) and taught my self to play. I have recorded two songs. One of them is "Amazing Grace" and one of them isn't.
After playing for a couple of years, I made a startling discovery. The fingering patterns on the pennywhistle are the same as on the Irish bagpipes, so that is my next challenge.
While I will never approach the quality of my siblings musical efforts, I have found something I enjoy and am able to use a part of my brain that I didn't know existed.

At Monday, October 23, 2006 2:55:00 PM, Blogger Andy McCullough said...

I once heard this story of a piano student who was very bad but because of the dilgent love of his piano teacher he persisted and played like a virtuso. I think he died playing the piano too.


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