“I’d give anything to play the piano as beautifully as you do.”
I’ve heard that all my life.
I’ve been playing the piano since before I can remember. My piano teacher signed me up for concerts and talent shows, and my performances were the highlight of recitals.
I was somewhat of a local celebrity. People often told me I played with more appropriate expression than grown-ups.
At four years of age, I didn’t really understand what that meant, only that others seemed to enjoy hearing me play as much as I enjoyed playing.
But the price I paid was almost more than I could handle.
At the piano recitals, I hoped to make friends with the other kids, even though they were all older than I was.
But when their parents would tell them, “If you’d practice more, you could be good like Mark,” it only made the other kids resent me. I wasn’t someone they could relate to. I wasn’t friend material for them.
Or the kids at school.
Some Privilege, Being a Prodigy!
I was often excused from school to go perform in other places – sometimes at other schools. My teachers insisted I make up the schoolwork missed, in addition to homework.
One of my teachers took a special dislike to me, and made sure to single me out, further alienating me from my peers.
She insisted that I give oral reports on each event in front of the class (to be written, turned in, and graded also) in addition to all the other make-up work.
Other kids saw that I got to miss school and perform, and they imagined I got to make lots of friends and do all kinds of fun things. But between practicing, performing, and all the extra make-up work, I rarely had time for social fun.
Wherever I went, if there was a piano, people just assumed that I would play.
- School and church choirs.
- Indoor caroling.
The accompanying pianist is usually invisible. However, the performing pianist is on a pedestal.
Shy people avoided me. Someone bold people dared to say “Hi.” Then they would run off.
Not for any of them was I a person. I wasn’t a person they could relate to as a friend.
And After I Quit Performing?
When I quit performing, I lost my identity.
And my self-esteem.
Now, when I hear people talk about wishing they could be as good as somebody else at something, I think “No, you don’t. Usually the price to be paid isn’t worth it.”
Note From Rose, A Tiny Arpeggio
If you’re interested in this theme of paying the price, here are some blog posts of related interest:
- Are You Willing to Pay the Price Spiritually? Perspective from RES.
- Paying the Price for My College Degree. A Guest Post by EMILY T.
- Paying the Price of Beauty. A Guest Post by LYNETTE
- Cutting a Cord of Attachment to a Lawyer. Paying the Hidden Price.
- The Guru Game in the Age of Awakening