JF
INTERNATIONAL
MUSIC ACADEMY
Music fulfills dreams
 
I have been seriously pursuing musical/piano learning for about the last year or so, after many years of neglect or very limited involvement. I wrote down what goes through my mind and emotions in learning a challenging piece. I must note to begin with that I am helped and inspired by a wonderful and excellent teacher Dr. Feifei Jiang!
1.) I am initially curious about the music, and ask "can I actually do this?"
2.) I make some cautious explorations. There is uncertainty, but I am open to the possibility.
3.) I decide to go ahead. I am going to do it!
4.) I start practicing and get some command of at least a part of the composition, thinking if I can do that part I can probably do other parts too (but I still am fighting my doubts).
5.) I get to the stage of "roughing out" the whole, getting a feel for the complete work and how it goes and ties together. But I can't play it very well.
6.) I find that the "roughing out" is lasting longer than I want it to! I am beginning to experience frustration.
7.) I find that there are parts I thought I knew that reveal that I may have over-estimated my command of them. Ugh!
8.) Self-doubt is creeping in. . . I get angry with myself and my mistakes. (There is some swearing and cursing going on).
9.) OK, calm down and focus! I find I can play, but there is always some error, and not always in the same place. What is good one day is trouble the next. And there is that particular place that I just can't seem to get!
10.) I know the notes; it's a matter of getting consistent with hitting them regularly with confidence. I begin now to focus on interpretation, expression.
11.) My focus on interpretation competes with my attempts to increase precision, and I start to make different mistakes than before. Aaaghhh!!!
12.) I am maybe starting to hate the whole thing.
13.) I gain confidence by sticking with it through practice, even though I am getting tired of this piece. At some point, a mysterious line in crossed and I realize I can, in fact, play this thing. Maybe not as a professional would do it, but at least reasonably well so that someone could enjoy hearing it.
14.) I prepare to perform it, in front of people! Going over and over it, I begin to just enjoy playing it, and at some point it becomes a part of me, my person and being. 
15.) Acceptance of my limitations. I have to accept the goal of playing this as best I can do, knowing that it will not match up to the high level of a professional pianist. I started to get serious about it all too late, and I will never have the dexterity to move up to certain high levels. I will have to keep to "accessible" works, and will probably always have to play at slower tempos than what I hear on records, etc. Also, I probably won't ever get to the kind of precision that I would like to have (accept some simplifications, etc.). But it's OK. I just have to do my best, and contain my angry, frustrated moments. Music is the greatest of the arts. I feel more stirrings with music than I do with paintings, drawings, etc. Music is a great mystery, I think.

----- Richard Terrell