A Personal Experience with Persisting in Piano Lessons

A Personal Experience with Persisting in Piano Lessons

by David Kime, Piano Academy Faculty

Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as having said: “That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing itself is changed, but that our power to do is increased.”

That which we persist in doing: Two months before my eighth birthday, my mom took me to my first piano lesson at a neighborhood piano teacher’s home.  For about seven years, she urged, encouraged, and set the kitchen timer so that I would learn to practice the piano.  Some days I complained, other days I just messed around at the keyboard, and I am quite sure that at that point I did not have a perspective of what I could do with music, and of how music would bless my life.  My mom, however, seemed to know, so she insisted that I persist, week after week, year after year.  My grandmother wisely took me one summer to the finals of the Gina Bachauer International Young Artists Piano Competition…where I watched pianists not many years older than I were performing works of the great classical masters.

becomes easier for us to do:  I was amazed by what I saw that evening in Salt Lake City…and it was around that time that I feel like a change was happening.  My perspective of what was possible broadened; playing the piano did not seem to be quite so much work…practice time seemed to pass a little bit more quickly…the music seemed to be more fun!  I don’t know if I would say that playing the piano suddenly became easier for me, but I did begin to feel joy as I did it.

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not that the nature of the thing has changed: Now, as a piano major at Brigham Young University, most of my days are to be spent with hours at the piano, learning about the piano, or learning about other aspects of music that affect my performance at the piano.  Practicing, as surprising as it may sound, is still hard work!  It is not always easy, but the end result and “bigger perspective”  is so much easier to see.  LDS Leader President James E. Faust taught in an April 2000 General Conference address, “Self-mastery is related to spirituality, which is the central quest of mortality.” Some aspect of being willing to diligently persist in performing a task, of mastering our own desires and actions, changes us.  Our perfect example of persistence is the Savior, whose entire mortal ministry was spent patiently facing and overcoming difficulty…his difficulties did not go away as He overcame them; they actually became increasingly more burdensome.  His patient persistence meant that at the end of His mortal ministry, He could make this promise to His disciples and to all of us: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

but that our power to do is increased: Just because we patiently persist in taking piano lessons…or in some other worthwhile, difficult task, does not necessarily mean that you or I will become a world-class concert pianist, an Olympic gymnast, or a US Senator.  Persistence, though, brings with it power to make us better people, so that we can realize our potential as God’s children.  When a piano student persists in daily practicing of scales, or in playing four measures in a repertoire piece several hundred times to correct them, or in working for weeks to perfect a hymn to play it at church, that piano lesson will learn an important lesson that will bring us happiness here and in eternity, a lesson summarized by my dad this way, “You can do hard things.”