I recently started taking piano lessons again, and after every lesson, I would come out, clutching my heart, furiously thinking about what was said to me in my lesson. Accusations that I had no substance, no tension, no aggression, no confidence, nothing. Faults that I knew subconsciously existed, but were brought to the surface even as I touched the piano, that my piano instructor could see into the depths of my soul so clearly that it was excruciating.
One lesson, I got told that I was a good student simply because I did not take everything “personally.” I was a little surprised. I took everything very personally, piano would sometimes consume my thoughts more than every other class put together.
Perhaps it was the way I channeled to these personal affronts. Instead of moping, I worked to improve, I wanted to banish these comments. I never felt like these faults were something that I could never overcome. At one point, I was absolutely terrified of lessons, but still, I forced myself to practice. I forced myself to accept the fact that my piano instructor would always see these sides of me I never showed anyone, sometimes not even to my family. This petulant, uneven-tempered person who screams whenever she makes a mistake when practicing alone. This person who loves aggressive, brooding atmospheres with very decided opinions against Mozart and Chopin. In lessons, I am a flurry of sighs, but I force myself after a mistake or comment is tendered, to immediately attempt to correct it– no brooding, just pretend that everything is all right, that all that matters is the physical touch between the piano and me. My soul has nothing to do with it. Rationality of mind can fix everything.
Yet, where is the place for emotion and where is the place for rationality? When do I lose myself in emotion and when I do calmly check myself and say that I need to continue the line and not accent the downbeat? Where does my soul belong in the mechanical transaction between the keyboard and my fingers?
my repertoire I prepared this past semester:
Johann Sebastian Bach, Prelude and Fugue, E major, Book I
*I am sorry I could not find a better version, I like Maurizio Pollini’s the best, if you ever chance by it.
Johann Brahms, Hungarian Dances (one piano, four hands), no. 4 and no. 15
*Alfons and Aloys Kontarsky play a tad slower in the beginning than I do.