Picking Up the Pieces


Finally, I was prevailed upon to play the piano again, for a one-night engagement, here in our living room, as part of a family recital for a dear friend.  

I have a confession to make.  I never play because I don’t think I’m good enough.  I’m not concert pianist-level.  I’m never going to make it to Julliard.  So I quit while I was still ahead, and opted to finish Business Economics, instead of taking up a Minor in Piano, which a friend of mine actually succeeded in doing.
It all came back to me tonight when I started practicing “The Poet’s Harp” (Op. 38, No. 3, composed by Felix Mendelssohna beautiful piece from my college days.  After four tries (should be ten times, according to my piano teacher-mother), my neck and shoulders hurt (I can hear her reply – that this is due to my wrong sitting position), and I felt like I had wrestled with the notes.  I had to stop and play something easier, something I had memorized like the back of my hand, J.S. Bach‘s Two-Part Inventions, until I checked the pieces and the actual notes, and realized how wrongly I had been playing Nos. 1, 4, 8, and especially 13, all these years.  Like a friend of mine from a choir told me years ago, practice makes permanent.  I did not practice perfectly and so the effect of that mistake is permanent.  Unless I practice the pieces correctly, “ten times”.  I stopped after an hour, for I could not hear the music anymore.  I also noticed that my piano teacher from UP’s Extension Program had encircled parts where I made the most mistakes, and consciously or subconsciously, I hit the wrong notes on the exact same parts of The Poet’s Harp.  Talk about repeating one’s mistakes over and over again.
I will try again this weekend, and hopefully, I will not resist anymore, and will not end up feeling like I had just been on a boxing match with the piano.
There was only one man who was able to bring not just me back in front of the keys, but also my mother, who is even more of a musical perfectionist than I am.  One man, a good friend of mine who is leaving the country, requested a recital for his farewell party, and I could not help but oblige.  He also convinced my mother, who in turn encouraged her grandsons (the current performing stars of the family) to play at least two pieces each.  I don’t know how to say goodbye, to face him and thank him for all that he’s done for me, to wish him the best in his further studies, to ask him to write to me often, to memorize his face so that I don’t forget.  I will just pour my goodbyes into The Poet’s Harp.  I asked him to paint me something as a remembrance.  He is an artist who has stopped painting due to a new vocation.  I don’t know if he will do his part of the bargain, but I sure am doing mine.
In the movies, goodbyes are so poignant.  They bring out the best memories and make the characters realize their worth in one another’s eyes.  
In the movies, rusty musicians play gloriously in the end, and frustrated artists create masterpieces.
This is real life.  I don’t know how this will end.  But I will try to enjoy the journey, and not commit the same mistakes I’ve made in the past.

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