I am struck by amount of people who feel that I need to justify my piano playing. Their first reaction when they find out that I play piano is, “Do you teach?” when my answer is no, they immediately have nothing else to say. I find it interesting because of a couple things. First off when I was a high school literature teacher, I often heard comments like, “those who can’t …teach!” That never actually made sense to me but I heard it a lot. My personal experience is that those who teach understand the subject completely and they are willing to give away 110% of their hearts in the process. I know this because when I burned out as a teacher, it took me a couple years to rediscover, and nurture my heart back to life. If you have never experienced complete burn out, you may not understand that statement, and I really hope, for your sake, you do not understand it. The second reason I find the “Do you teach?”, reaction interesting rests in the purpose of teaching itself. As a literature teacher, my purpose was to train people to appreciate, love and engage literature. I did not want to turn out 30 literature teachers a year my purpose was to turn out readers and thinkers. It is not common to ask if you teach when you tell someone you are an avid reader. So why, if I play piano is that a common question?
I wonder if some of that desire to justify my time comes from inside of me and is simply mirrored back to me by people around me. Some of that is true because I can feel myself grappling with questions of worth, and value. But I think some of it is our society which often views art, as a futile endeavor. By teaching art, I make money and money allows art to be a worthy pursuit.
If I taught piano, my purpose would be to teach my student to understand, love, and engage music as a healing balm to counteract the emotionless world they are bumping into all the time. Maybe I could change the way my students viewed art and music specifically. Maybe just maybe, I could teach people that music is beauty, music is art and music needs no justification. But teaching piano for now, may be lurking around the bend but I do not see it right now.
For me, the piano is a mirror; it mirrors my shadow, and my light. It reflects what I put into it and it heals as it reveals. Somewhere on this planet there is a bird singing and no one is listening. That does not nullify its desire or need to sing. Perhaps the piano is the same thing; it is played and listened to by the same person. It is played for an audience of one before it is ever played for a crowd and the benefit of playing is a journey of self discovery. It is a journey of acceptance, of hope and of healing. I have willing started my journey, but it is not a journey that most people understand. It is the journey of a lifetime! No justification needed!