Thursday, March 3, 2011

ANOTHER Slog Hero: High Notes and Low Notes

LAHP and I recognize women on The Slog who provide us inspiration. These champions of life have a knack for athletics and are ass-kickers in all life pursuits. For round three, we turn to music, though the woman of note, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, is more regarded for her influence in the political sphere. Please note that we DO NOT endorse political views here on our blog.

I am zipping through Rice's self-authored book: Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family and no, we aren't turning into a book club. A passage about her early piano playing days parallels the principles of sports and triathlon (found at 41% if reading on a Kindle!). I took the liberty of embellishing with CAPS, though the italics are Rice's flair.

On balance, though, I loved my life in Denver. I kept the same rigorous schedule of piano and skating that I'd established the year before. I made rapid progress in piano in particular, competing in statewide and regional competitions. My first major competition was something of a disaster, though. Playing a Mozart piano sonata from memory, I lost my place a few minutes into the piece and wound up at the end before I'd played the middle. I was DEVASTATED, although the judges said that what I had played was very good. It was the first time I'd really bombed playing the piano. My parents tried to be supportive and kept talking about how good I'd sounded. I learned at that moment that some failures are best absorbed alone. I thanked them for their concern and spent the night replaying the disaster over and over. I knew that I had not really been prepared for the competition. Perhaps because playing the piano is both a physical and a mental challenge, it's not possible to "cram" for a performance in the same way one can for an exam. In other words, practicing eight hours one day will not produce the same result as practicing one hour a day for eight days. I'd left my preparation to the last minute and it showed.

A couple of days later I asked my piano teacher when the next competition would take place. It would be the Young Artists' regional competition in the winter. I entered immediately.

Rice's narrative is an example of how to process feedback--in this case, failure--learning from it and moving on. Though failure doesn't feel as good as getting a first place prize in a piano competition, it's meaningful information that helps you modify your preparation for what's next.

Plus, Rice hits the nail on the head about the consistent practice required for mental/physical pursuits like playing the piano, painting, swimming, or holding your breath for 17 minutes like David Blaine. You have to keep slogging away, ideally with a smile.

1 comment:

  1. Yes slogging away....although sometimes the 8 hours crammed in one day makes you feel better mentally if you missed something during the week Hahaha.....