Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, June 24, 2011

Piano lessons are life lessons

When I was 8 I wanted to learn the piano, but my parents said they couldn't afford one, so they bought me an accordion. I took lessons for one year, but hated it. Now, at 62, I am finally learning to play the piano. It's hard. It's probably a bit easier when you are younger and your brain is more supple and absorbent, but, still, it's not easy.

There is so much going on in the music staff: how many beats to the measure, whether to play soft or loud, whether to crescendo or de-crescendo, whether to play the pedal or not. I'm finding that I don't see all the things that are there, telling me what to do. I can only focus on one or two elements at a time.

Isn't that a lot like life? We don't see everything there is to see, to follow, to listen to, to pay attention to. And life is also hard. In some ways, it gets easier as we get older, because we have more wisdom and experience dealing with the ups and downs. But in other ways it's harder because of the limitations that begin occurring.

My piano lessons are also teaching me patience, which is not one of my strongest virtues (that is the understatement of the century). I can't just look at a piece of music, sight-read it and play. I am having trouble recognizing the notes of the left hand. So I pluck away, one note at a time. Then, each day, I play that piece over and over. At some point, the notes are familiar and the music begins to sound like music.
I'm only up to songs like Alouette and Kumbayah, but hey, I'm playing songs on the piano. And loving the lessons--both for piano and for life.

How about you? What are you learning?


Unknown said...

Mostly I am learning how to slow down my pace but at the same time I am picking up new talents to do things on the computer associated with blogging to hopefully make mine more presentable and creative. Still a lot to learn but progress is progress.

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

I'm actually learning some new stuff about friendships. Not something I thought I'd be saying at 30 years of age, but I'm learning some things about how they affect both sides of the relationship, and how strong and important that bond can be, even after many years apart.

I think I have one of my blog topics decided to next week, actually.


I was lucky, my mother could play the piano and I think I inhertited it from her, at the age of two I could listen to a tune and straight away play it on the piano. At 4 yrs went to proper lessons and went on to pass many examinations towards becoming a teacher, Then I met the love of my life, gave up piano lessons though my love of music is still apparent, when My three children were small I restarted lessons again but within 3 months moved to another part of the UK and didn't have room for the piano. I now have a keyboard.....not quite the same.
Good luck to you with your lessons it's very relaxing and I do regret not getting my teaching diploma.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I like that analogy. I guess we all get some notes wrong here and there in life. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I was a music minor in college, but not on the guitar, so learning it the past few years has been challenging. For me it's patience, repetition, and realizing some nights it just won't flow.

writing and living by Richard P Hughes said...

It's a good analogy for writing too. There are many elements to master to write a good, complete book.

Claudia Moser said...

I am thinking of starting to learn Russian, it would be the 7th language for me, and quite a challenge for sure! Good luck with the piano!

Joanne said...

I took piano lessons for a year when I was a child, but not since then. I'd love to play a musical instrument, piano, or maybe guitar. Right now, I enjoy music as a listener, but it would be nice to create it too.

Better is Possible said...

Wonderful analogy. It speaks directly to life, growth and lessons. Best wishes for a success on the piano! You can do it.

Spanj said...

You know, I don't think it matters if we miss some of the pointers around us, as long as we follow the ones we do see with passion and enthusiasm.

Melissa Sarno said...

I hope you keep up the piano playing Karen. It's so much fun to play :-) I'm learning about myself and my friendships lately. I want to learn how to paint.

Liz Fichera said...

It's never too late to play piano, IMO! I play a little too. Had lessons as a kid but was too impatient then to sit down and practice. I love the piano.

Karen Walker said...

Odie, those are two great things to be working on
Paul, learning about relationships has been a lifelong lesson for me and one that has paid off quite well - good for you!
Yvonne, it's never too late -why not now?
Jennifer, yes, so true - hit the wrong note and move on.
Alex, yes, I'm learning that as well and to just move on when that happens
Richard, good point - yes, it does fit writing
Claudia, 7 languages - really?
Joanne, it's never too late - I can attest to that!
Better is Possible - thanks
Angeline, I agree whole-heartedly
Melissa, I intend to keep it up - it is fun, challenging, but fun.
Liz, I love it, too.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I've always wanted to play an instrument, but coordination is not my strong suit. Neither is a good sense of balance. I've learned to live with my clumsy self!

Suze said...

Keep going! Your brain is more supple than you realize-- at any stage of life! You will find your brain evolving and getting reshaped to accommodate this new goal and nothing massages our neural connections like practicing an instrument.

GO, Karen!

Anonymous said...

I'm learning to take breaks and get more sleep and naps. I have a nervous energy that keeps me moving moving moving. And I drink coffee too. So I need to learn to slow down a bit and take it easy.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I'm learning that when someone visits our home, they don't notice (or care!) if I scrubbed and waxed the kitchen floor. So, I'm much more laid back about housework than I used to be. (Nowadays, as long as the department of health doesn't hammer a condemnation note on the front door, I'm good.) Would like to learn Spanish. Silly me, I took five years of French. Used to be quite fluent, but haven't had a reason to use it in years. But Spanish? I run into Spanish-speaking people almost every day.

Karen Walker said...

Diane, we all have our strengths I guess
Suze I am going to keep going - for sure.
Stephen, oh my, breaks and naps and sleep are good.
Susan, me, too, about the housework. Much more laid back.

Beverly Diehl said...

Good for you, taking up the piano. And can't we all use a little more patience? I want to do it, I want it done, NOW!!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I think I need to learn something new and different, too! I'm watching my daughter take piano lessons...she just had her 3rd lesson today and I'm enjoying seeing her learn! (I should do the same for myself...)

Anonymous said...

Karen, it occurred to me that you do what a preacher does, apply a little lesson to the bigger lessons in life. Good for you. If you love playing the piano, keep it up.

Hilary said...

Hi Karen .. good for you following your dream - just enjoy what you can do - at least by now, we've learnt patience (may not want it! .. but understand it) ... happy tinkling on those ivory keys.

Have a good weekend .. cheers Hilary

Karen Walker said...

Beverly, if I could acquire patience, ah, that would be sweet!
Elizabeth, go for it!
Simona, I intend to - I do love it.
Hilary, thanks so much

Sharon Lippincott said...

I've been cogitating buying a guitar and taking lessons. But do I want to commit the time to practice? Not so sure about that ... You just pulled that idea back up on the table.

K.C. Woolf said...

I took piano lessons for a while when I was still at school and I remember it was hard then.

You're a brave woman, and clearly more patient than you give yourself credit for, because you're doing it! :-)

Karen Walker said...

Sharon, I find the practicing makes me happy - you'd have to see for yourself. For me, learning the piano is part of my journey
K.C., oh, you don't see me when I can't figure out the notes!!

Julie Flanders said...

I always wanted to learn to play the piano. How inspiring that you are taking lessons now! Kudos to you for doing that.

I love the analogy to learning in life and learning to play an instrument.

Mojo said...

With any luck, I'm learning to manage my time better. Coming to blogging via the A to Z Challenge back in April, I'm still only beginning to appreciate the commitment that goes into consistently maintaining a blog and a blog community.

Hugely impressed, accordingly, by people like you who keep producing insightful posts and new perspectives on life. Thanks for setting an example :)

Karen Walker said...

Julie, I am finding that doing the things I've always wanted to do is very very fulfilling. Thanks.
Mojo, thank you so much for these kind words. It took awhile for me to get the hang of it, so hang in there.

Talli Roland said...

Interesting post, Karen - I admire your tenacity and patience!

What am I learning? Hm, I'm learning that dreams can be accomplished many different ways. It's a lessn I'm trying to absorb, anyway!

Jules said...

It is the same with the guitar. My problem is similar, play and I can play along, put music in front of me and I have to think too much. :)

I'm learning life has a plan of its own and we are merely along for the ride, "Smile and wavy boys, smile and wave." :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Karen Walker said...

Talli, yes, it's funny how we think it will be a certain way, ends up being something else, sometimes better, sometimes not.
Jules, Yeah, reading music is a whole other ballgame.
And so true about life. Just buckle up.

Mary Aalgaard said...

Oh, I love this post. I'm a piano teacher. I've witnessed that frustration and lack of patience. It is harder for adults, but I think that's the impatience and ego factors. They think they're supposed to be more advanced simply because they are older, but they're really kindergartners in a new skill.
Play on, Karen! I'm so glad you're learning piano.