I took piano lessons for 5 years. I really liked the idea of playing the piano. For five long years I kept up the pretense that playing the piano was something I really did want to do and I kept thinking that at some point I would actually sit down and practise. Sometimes I sat at the piano for 30 minutes and looked at the music, turned the pages, played an occasional scale, looked at the music again, turned more pages, played a few notes – finally declaring my excellent practice to be complete. I could while away many an evening pretending I was trying.
The truth was I didn’t want to learn. I wanted to be able to play but I had no interest in practising and getting better. I imagined myself playing at concerts or writing songs which I would perform in front of large crowds. But I hated practising. I also hated that year after year I was put in for grade examinations by my teacher. Each grade was the same – from sitting outside the exam room nervously clutching sheets of piano music, to flapping my way through scales and arpeggios and then finally the dreaded singing element when the examiner played a tune I had to echo back. Each exam ended in the same way – with me in floods of tears and the examiner taking pity and awarding me the lowest pass mark possible.
Until grade 4. At grade 4 you can’t fake it anymore and no amount of tears will distract from the fact that if you don’t know what you are doing then you just don’t get to pass. I was told a few weeks later by the music teacher who whispered it as I walked into assembly, “I don’t want you to be upset but you won’t hear your name when the certificates are handed out.”
I wasn’t upset. I wasn’t really anything. I certainly wasn’t surprised. I stopped playing the piano after that; it was a lovely idea but it just wasn’t the right fit for me. I still love the idea of being able to play the piano but not enough to go back to sitting down at the keyboard and actually working to make it happen. Then again, 66 days ago I didn’t like the idea of working hard on being healthy. I didn’t think exercise was the right fit for me either. Maybe there’s still a future when I am a talented musician – I’d be surprised but I don’t think I’ll rule it out as a possibility just yet.
If the last 66 days have taught me one thing, it’s that you never know what you might be capable of until you actually try.