I’m working on it: Piano problems and chicken

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By Amanda Lee, Web columnist

The metronome is my enemy. It sets the mood as this new-found torture to endure. White keys taunt me, and the notes blur on the page.

My fingers are too short, and they trip over each other as they try to keep up with the unending beat.

My hands are too small, and they can’t reach all the keys, they can’t play all the chords, they can’t even manage to finish a simple exercise, and I want chicken.

Everyone else in the room seems to be moving along at a great pace. I hear their pianos click on as they play their piece, as they pass their test. Each note makes mine sound insignificant and hopeless.

I am always the last one to finish a piece, the last one to pass a test, and barely at that.

I can’t keep time. I either play too quickly or too slowly. My fingers are clumsy and my notes crash into one another, creating noise instead of music.

My head aches and I sit for a few minutes, wondering how much longer I have to keep up this charade of playing piano. Where is that chicken?

I never wanted to play an instrument, I had accepted the fact that I was not meant to make music on musical machines a long time ago.

I was okay with that and had no desire to test my abilities.

The only thing that I seem to be good at is reading notes. I can read the notes on the sheet music, I can find them on the piano, but I can’t play them all at once, and certainly not with both hands. I can clap beats and rhythms, but I can’t play them.

I either get all the notes right but my timing is off. Or I get my timing right, but my rhythm is off. I can’t win. I’m always half-way there, almost there, really close, but never good.

I am “better, good improvement, you’re getting it,” but not, “You’ve got it, great, or excellent.”

I once dreamed of playing the piano. I wished to know how to move my fingers to create music. I wanted to sew the notes together with my hands and create something people would want to listen to over and over. Instead I’m sewing my fingers together and slamming my keys with frustration, and dream about chicken.

To say the least, I do not love the piano right now.

But, everyone says to keep at it, to keep trying, to keep practicing. They say that it’s all supposed to come together and that everything is going to “click” at some point. In the meantime, I feel like I’m murdering what should be beautiful music every time I play. Nothing sounds right, and to be completely honest, my patience is running thin.

I don’t want to keep waiting for a miracle on the keyboard. I want to sit down and play astounding pieces of music. I don’t want to practice, I want to PLAY.

I think that’s my problem. I want to rush right in and start playing. I want to be great and it’s hard for me to accept that as a beginner, I’m not. Someday I will be, definitely not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but someday, I could become the next Mozart.

In the words of American humorist Arnold H. Glasow (1905-1998), “The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.”

Fine, but I’ll still take that chicken any time.