Saturday, February 19, 2005

A Peek into my Neurotic Thoughts

I have a lot of dumb tendencies. Among my dumbest is my silly perfectionism. It's so dumb, and I know it's dumb, but it still makes me crazy.

Case in point:

I was sick for a week. Then I was very busy at work for a week. Then my piano teacher was sick for a week. All this time, my theory "classes" have been on hold, partly because my theory teacher has had several performances on Friday afternoons, which is normally the day that I have theory.

And poor George is tuned, but the string for the "A" the octave above Middle C had to be replaced, and it's already twanging off-key. Kind of a hard on the ear when you're working on a piece that goes back and forth from D minor to A minor to D minor to D major.

Plus, I haven't been able to practice at lunchtime for the last week and a half. Which means the piano and I, normally such close companions, are practically strangers of late.

Now. It's not like I'm in school and I'm required to do this. Piano and theory/composition are something I do for fun. I haven't the talent, the time, nor the ambition to be a concert pianist or a great composer, though it's fun to dream. I do this because I love this. Which means that, when Life gets in the way of Music, Life generally takes precedence.

(Now that last paragraph didn't feel right. Because a little voice in my head said, "But what if you do have the talent?" If I do--or did--have the talent, then that means I've wasted precious years of my life doing Other Things. Although I'll readily admit that I have never had the ambition to put in the time and effort required to achieve the perfection that I so irrationally expect of myself.)

But then, when Life is tired of hogging the spotlight and it's time to focus on Music again ... I get very, very frustrated with the fact that what sounded so beautiful a month ago sounds like crap now.

OK, so it doesn't sound like crap. But it does when you compare it to how it sounded a month ago. And I wonder why I even bother.

And I'm mad at myself. I get into this mode of thought that I should be the Greatest Cubicle-Dwelling Amateur Adult Pianist In The World. As good as an 8-Hour-A-Day Dead-End Job Technical Writer could possibly be at piano. The Most Musically Sensitive And Pianistically Talented Office Worker. Ever.

It's stupid. I know I shouldn't expect to be Great. I once did, but that was during childhood and in high school, before I made the decision not to pursue music for a career. Whatever a "career" is supposed to mean. Because I don't remember choosing Cubicle-Dwelling Technical Writer either.

And it's not like I'm regretting the decision not to pursue music. I like being able to afford meals and books. And my deafness is a big barrier to any kind of playing I might do with other instruments.

It just saddens me a little (a lot) that I'm not able to devote the kind of time to music that I'd like. When when I am able to devote an hour here or there, it saddens me that I struggle the way I do.

Sorry, y'all. I've been "up" for two days. Now I'm back down. Hoping to swing the other direction tomorrow. Then I'll respond to some of the wonderful comments you've all left over the past couple of days.

P.S. I know I'm taking myself too seriously. But as the title to this post tells you, I'm just giving you a peek into my neurotic thoughts. :-)


Crawdaddy79 said...


Anonymous said...

Hmmm, everyone is up late tonight!


oceanskies79 said...

Hi Waterfall, my empathy. Practice does seem to make lots of wonders. For me, my playing usually sounds better when I have been more consistent and regular with my practices.

Then again, I must agree that it is not easy to find time to practice when one has other life commitments.

So, nowadays I opt to practice half an hour whenever I have time to spare. I will just focusing on a few small and manageable aspects. For example, today I would practice scales, and another day, I would try to get the rhythm right for a particular passage.

Doing so seems to help remove the nagging thought of me sounding not as good as the previous time, because I have to be really focused to get what I want to achieve within a short time span. I have only time to achieve my practice goals and no time for frustrations over not sounding as well as I would like to be.

oceanskies79 said...

And it seemed to help, cos I do sound a little better eventually. ^_<

daisymarie said...

This perfectionist hears you cry, your frustration.

Sometimes we have to have jobs (cubicle dwellings) to support our passions. And when one enables the other--how blessed we are!

so I'm reading along and I get to the word "deafness"...and I realized that I'm totally a new-comer here...and this may be well known by everyone else, but it was like screeching brakes to me. Could you (in a private note if that would be better for you) let me know what this means?

be grace-full to yourself.

Shakie G said...


First off, Michele Sent me.

Second, it certainly makes sense that you feel the way you do. If anything, you've pursued your dreams far more than most. So as much as Life will allow, Music makes sense. And maybe the world will remember a wonderful person instead of a fantastic pianist. Keep in mind, I'm told Glenn Gould was really hard to get along with... :D

Waterfall said...

crawdaddy79: I'm better now. :-)

Sherry: Yup. The Hubster was at work, so I had to entertain myself with the exciting blogosphere.

oceanskies: Yeah, I should take better advantage of the free time I have here and there, even if it's just a few minutes. Five or ten minutes is all it takes to work on a short passage.

daisymarie: Yes, I am blessed to have a job that supports my writing and music habits. As I joke with the Hubster, it's too bad I married for love and not money. :-)

shakie g: Thanks for stopping by! Yeah, I hear that Glenn Gould was not only difficult to get along with, but also very, very weird. Ah, but his Goldberg Variations (both versions) sound like they are directly from heaven. So I guess there is a price to be paid ... and I do like being able to get along with people. :-)

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