Five Life Lessons I learned from Playing Piano

I’ve been playing piano since I was five years old. I have been blessed to have the most amazing teacher who not only made me fall in love with the piano but taught me life lessons, through our piano lessons. Maybe some of these tips can apply to your studying this exam season! Here are just a few:

  1. 1. Practice Makes Perfect

    Of course this would be the first one! Everyone says it but very few people do it… Practice, practice, practice. If you do something for long enough you are going to be good at it. No one achieves anything based purely on luck and talent alone, they practice for long hours a day, every day to hone their craft. So you should too Waterloo Warriors! Practice whatever course you’re studying for right now as much as you can and soon you will see that you have achieved perfection!

  2. 2. If You Love It You Will Keep on Doing It

    I love piano so much. There is just this feeling that you get when you string all the notes together and they come out perfectly. It takes time and effort and hundreds, nay, thousands of times you make that one mistake over and over again. It’s frustrating; it’s banging your head into a wall feeling that you aren’t moving forward. But you are! And in one of those attempts you are going to ace that progression! But what gets you to that, what keeps you trying and trying and trying is that love that you have. It keeps you driven, it keeps you working. The saying “If it was easy then everyone would do it” has some truth. And the ones who do it are the ones whose passion drives them to do it.

    So if you’ve never felt like that before, go out and find something that does make you feel that way. Go out and find something that will wake you up in the morning and keep you going even when you feel you’re failing.

  3. 3. Stick with It

    Let me tell you a secret: I used to hate piano lessons so much. I always felt like my teacher was too strict on me, scolding me when I didn’t practice enough. I tried to quit so many times but my mom just said, “Stick with it.” I was so baffled. Stick with it? I was miserable! But what could I do? She would drive me to and from the place to make sure I didn’t bail so I had to go. And then I started liking it. I started liking the new pieces I would play that were more advanced because I knew the basics and the theory. My teacher and I built a rapport and he is one of my favourite people to this day. I just can’t imagine how barren my life would be if I hadn’t “stuck with it”. So if something is making you miserable, stick with it just for a little bit. Maybe it would be more amazing than you actually thought.

  4. 4. No one Notices the Mistakes

    One of the most daunting tasks for me when playing piano is to sight read. Sight reading is when you play a piece of music that you’ve never seen before, just by reading the notation and playing it. No prior practice, no going through it bit by bit, just all at once. I used to find this really scary because what if I mess up? What if I do it wrong? Everyone will know! I will spoil the piece! Spoiler alert: if you keep on going no one is going to even know you made a mistake.

    In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have played a piece perfectly. Ok, so maybe I don’t exactly follow number 1 as well as I preach. But, in spite of that, I have managed to have several performances where no one noticed anything was wrong. Think about it: what is one note in the hundreds that you are going to play? That’s how life is: what’s this one mistake in the thousands of decisions I am going to make? So don’t sweat it and keep going with that smile on you face. You got this girl!

  5. 5. Everyone has Nerves

    The most important lesson my piano teacher taught me is that everyone has nerves. Before my first performance he pulled me aside and asked if I was nervous. Of course I said yes and he said that that was good. Nerves are part of the flight or fight response, he had explained to me. Flight would be when you freeze up and you mess up while fight would be when you perform the piece really really well. He said that everyone got nerves but it’s what you do with those nerves that makes your performance. If you channel those nerves into your piece, you can perform better than ever before. But if you don’t deal with the nerves and allow them to build up then you will be a nervous mess. So channel those nerves into whatever task you have in front of you. Use that excess energy for good!