Learning Music is Hard Sometimes

“The swing of the song rests in how you play around the silence between the notes.”

I have been working on, “Once I Loved by Antonio Carlos Jobim,Vinicius De Moraes, Ray Gilbert.” Now just to let you know, I have a bit of a hang up about Brazilian songs. I struggle with the rhythm, the slight harmony changes and basically I am so sure that I can’t play them, that I totally sabotage myself. I am hyper critical and I simply freeze up if I see words like Bossa Nova. I was raised in church and my primary childhood music consisted of hymns. So I didn’t exactly grow up with rhythm.

My piano teacher let me video tape him playing this song. (I love the phones now days.) I have been through a week of listening to that video over and over again. I have probably listened to the first minute of the song a hundred times or more. I still cannot play it and I am frustrated.

I fell into a cycle of telling myself that I was too dumb to play this song. I started to just give up when it dawned on me that I was giving up for no other reason than the fact that I am listening to the wrong voice in my head.

I often start listening to the voice in my head that says, “You should be able to play this song by now, maybe it is just too hard for you.” Reality is that sometimes I will struggle with a song, sometimes it will take a hundred times through the song, sometimes it may even take three hundred times through a song. How long it takes is irrelevant as long as I don’t give up!

I wish I could let people know just how much work it is to be a musician. It takes hundreds of hours of going through the harmonies, scales and charts. There will be times when things go better than other times. Learning to play the piano has been the best journey I have ever undertaken.

My piano has become a mirror that reflects my struggles. It has taxed my grit and strengthened my resolve. Music has touched me deeper that anything else could, dispersing a healing balm over areas most people never see. Mostly it has become so much a part of my life that I cannot even imagine life without it.

I am not sure I will ever master this song, but I imagine it will eventually fall into place. I will never give up. I will start listening to the voice that tells me, “I can do it.” I will listen to more Brazilian music and yes, I will listen to my piano teacher play it as many times as it takes.

I headed back to piano lessons and I found out that I am playing it beautifully. This next week will include a few more times through the song. The video this week is my piano teacher saying, “This is what you are playing. Which is technically correct………This is what I want you to play!…Did you hear the difference?” The swing of the song rests in how you play around the silence between the notes. I hear it, I feel it and soon I will be playing it!


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