Looking for the easy way out

The other day I was having a terrible practice session on the piano, no matter what I was doing I just couldn't get it right. I was hitting the wrong keys on my scale work, struggling with my sight reading, and the piece I had been working on for ages sounded nothing like what it was meant to, this took me to a place where I was experiencing doubt overload. 

I’ve been playing the piano for around 5 years and it’s a hobby that I put a lot of time into, normally at least an hour a day. I do improve but sometimes I have periods where I feel like I’m never getting anywhere. During this particular session I was not in my happy place, the thoughts running through my head included ‘you just don’t have what it takes to be a good musician’; ‘imagine if you put the time you spend on the piano into an area of your life where you are strong’; ‘I’m never going to get better at this’ This negative self talk was not a good place for me to be. 

For this session I had blocked out 90 minutes and I had started to experience this self doubt within the first 30 minutes. I’d love to tell you that in this tough moment I became aware of my thoughts and reminded myself that this is all part of my journey, that the best thing I could have done was to trust in my growth process and focus on the small steps, but that’s not what I did. This doubt I was experiencing made me totally pull away from my time on the keyboard and took me to a place where I was on the computer looking for a quick fix on how to become a great pianist. 

If you have an area of your life where you are struggling, there are plenty of people out there who are willing to sell you ’10 steps to becoming great at (insert your area here) in no time at all’. In this moment of extreme doubt I was lead to the world of quick fix piano lessons. For just $99 I could be playing like a professional musician in less than 6 weeks! These websites would show a video clip of a master of my instrument playing in ways that seemed so easy and then they promised that you too could be playing like this in no time!.

Because I was feeling so insecure about my ability I was seriously considering investing in one of these packages, anything to help me improve, but before I went to grab my wallet I noticed that they had a couple of free lessons to watch. I watched the lesson on becoming faster at scales, the master musician demonstrated how to increase your speed and he made it seem effortless.  A totally new piano player could quite easily think that this was an easy reality to achieve but I’ve been doing scales for years and this pianist was making claims that just weren’t true, nobody could get to the speed that he was demonstrating in the timeframes he was claiming. This made me snap out of my current headspace around my musical ability and suddenly I realised what I was doing, I shut down my computer and headed back to my keyboard and got back to the job of developing my skills.  

Do you find that when you feel insecure in an area you always look for the quick fix? It’s understandable why we do this as when we are struggling we want the easy way out as fast as possible. At these moments of insecurity maybe we are better off figuring out a plan that will lead us down a path that is realistic and we can then spend your energy developing ourselves towards what we want to be. This is a much better use of our time as it will lead to real change rather than a quick fix that won’t lead us to the fulfilled outcome.

I’m far from where I want to be on the piano and it may be another 5-10 years before I can consider myself great at it, but the way I will improve isn’t by spending time trying to find the quick fix answers, it will come from continuous hard work in the areas where I’m looking to grow. 


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Bevan Eyles