2.26.14 | The Process

by Raymond

I am an amateur pianist. What do pianists of any kind do? They play the piano, duh. However, they practice a h-e-double hockey sticks lot more than actually playing music. Practice is a counter-intuitive process to me. One devotes a painstaking amount of effort to polish a piece to the point where their impossibly high self-standards could possibly be satisfied, perform the piece, and then forgets it. That small window of the “perfection” of the piece is the only time when one can enjoy their own performance of it at the very best. But why spend a massively disproportionate amount of time practicing, compared to playing?

Maybe it’s just me, but I find something oddly satisfying about depressing white ivory keys. The pure physical aesthetic of playing the piano is enough for me to keep coming back to it. But I speculate that the main reason why anyone willingly plays an instrument is to communicate their expression. The journey is undeniably worth it. However, I will admit that there is a number of times I can hear myself play through a phrase of music before going insane.

Practice isn’t supposed to be fun (but how you can make it enjoyable, that’s a different story!). It’s a process of experimentation, hopes, and failure. There is no final product, because any performance of music can never be perfect. Physically, there is nothing to show for your practice (okay, maybe tendonitis or arthritis). The gratification from being able to play a piece of music comes from the subconscious realization that the performance is a totally personal achievement. It is not the gratification that comes from receiving a physical gift, but a gratification that is rooted in self-transformation. Music is an enigma to me; it can make all the difference or none of the difference in one’s life.

Here’s some Liszt. Enjoy.