Hi! It’s me! Lily!
And I’m a little depressed. But… not the bad kind. Let me explain.
So today I asked my piano teacher for some help with the Schumann piece I’m working on. I have the notes memorized, but… but it doesn’t feel quite right yet. I’m not comfortable with it, if that makes sense.
So I went over to her house, and she introduced me to someone. A concert pianist! A real life concert pianist! Not Martha Argerich or Wibi Soerjadi or Lang Lang, but if you guessed those, you’d be in that caliber! So he sat me down and had me play.
I didn’t get past the first 30 bars or so when he stopped me.
“Lily,” he said, “What does this music mean?”
I was confused. What was he talking about? It was music. I play it and it sounds good. I think I play all the notes right and I’m okay with phrasing and stuff –
“No, Lily… what does it mean? I mean, how does it make you feel when you play it? Does each note fascinate you? Do you listen to a specific note change and marvel at how good it sounds? How old are you?”
“So young,” he said, almost wistfully. “So young. You know nothing.”
I guess a little offense must have shown on my face.
And he played. He played through the entire piece from memory. And every few bars he’d stop and point out something I’d never noticed. “Here, Lily, hear how this transitions from a D minor to an A minor, then a G minor? Listen to how that E flat transitions” – and he just kept going. Every single thing he pointed out seemed to excite him somehow. “And here, in the cadenza, hear how the running passage moves from voice to voice – and that F suspending the chord, never letting it rest, as it builds tension -” and he just kept going.
So much I don’t know. So much I don’t understand. What am I doing? What am I doing? Why do I even think I can do this?
He asked me to play the cadenza, and I did, and I stopped halfway through and tears were running down my face. It sounded so awful, so disjointed… compared to him…
“You play well, Lily. You really do. But stop practicing the notes – you know the notes. Start practicing the music. Learn how it fits together, Play again.”
And I did. And again. And again. And each time, he kept pointing out how one note would transition to another, one voice would transition to another, and… and I never quite got it, but I got closer. It’s so… so much more involved and complicated than I thought.
Finally I just looked him. “Can I even play this? Should I even play this?”
“Of course!”, he said. “It’s important that you do. But use it. Use it to learn, use it to understand, use it to be a musician instead of someone who plays the right notes.”
I thanked him for his time, he gave me his card, we left, and I was just shellshocked. I felt like everything I thought I knew was just pulled out from under me.
And I sat down at the piano, and started over. From the first note.
After a little while, Sabby came home from the shop, and heard me play. She sat down and listened. “Lily?”, she finally said. “It sounds different.”
“Better?”, I said hopefully.
“Different,” she said. It sounds like… it sounds like you know what you’re playing now.”
And I burst into tears.
She was confused.
So was I, honestly.
I learned something today. Something very important.
I learned the difference between being competent, and being a master.
I’m… a little competent. He… he’s a master.
Maybe someday I can be a master. At something.
Love you all!!! ❤