A Pianist's Frustration

Her hands came crashing down at the piano again, knuckles almost white from the intensity of her playing. Slowly, she beat the endless sixteenth notes into her fingers, the keys, and everything around her. The air pulsated with the rhythm of her frustration.

Mentally, she cursed herself every time her fingers missed a note, a beat, or even a fingering. Why had they mutinied and become such stupid, slow followers?

She dropped her hands off the piano in disgust, feeling them throb as the pressure on them was lifted. Usually this was a more pleasant sensation, reminding her of all she had accomplished, but today it only pained her still more.

She was not making progress. Though she could set the metronome at higher and higher speeds, each time she barreled through her fingers knew less and less notes. She scowled at them as they hung by her side. They couldn't even play it at a slow speed, much less the galloping pace it required. Could she ever get it there?

This was how I felt yesterday. I was practicing a piece full of almost non-stop sixteenth notes, and getting extremely frustrated with my fingers' sudden lack of ability to cooperate with my brain. Playing louder than I probably ever had on that piano, I tried to pound the correct notes into my fingers. But it only made me more and more frustrated.

Any of this sound familiar to you?

For you music types, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. I bet you've experienced something like this before, be it clumsy fingers on the piano, running out of breath for the voice or wind instrument, or any other frustration for a musician.

Sometimes, I just wish my piano playing was like a machine that I could always count on to do the job. But it isn't a machine, it's a part of me. And I have to learn to be patient with me.

When I wrote that excerpt at the beginning I didn't have any more than what you see there. At the time, I was too frustrated to bring any kind of resolution to the story. So, dear readers, I put the question to you. How would you finish the story? Would you give resolution (and how?) or would you simply leave it hanging, with the frustration still in the air...?

If you get inspiration for the ending of this, please go ahead and post it! I'd love to see what y'all come up with. And feel free to share your own stories of musical frustration... I know we all have those moments. ;)

4 vivid thoughts:

Miss Elizabeth Rose said... {Reply}

Being that I am not a musician in any form or style, there are parts of your story that I cannot quite understand, having never experienced it myself. But, in some ways you could compare it to dance. I too have those moments where my feet just won't move fast enough, nor will they do the right steps. This may be similar to what you are expressing. I find that the best thing to do in these situations is to do something else for a while and come back to the task at a later time. That is what I do when I simply cannot for the life of me write a decent sentence in my book. :)

Have a good evening, dear!

Love and Blessings,
Elizabeth Rose

Leah said... {Reply}

I know exactly what you mean. Except in my case it's my violin. :-)
Yes. I can relate. Sometimes I feel the frustration with the monotonous practice. I always feel better if I pull out some of my old familiar music.

I felt inspired to write an ending so here are my scribblings.

As she slowly rested her fingers on the bench her mind slowed to a halt. She now asked herself yet another question. If she was truly wanting to play this piece, what was her ultimate purpose?

She knew that she was not playing this piece from her heart. She knew her motivation was not her own. She knew her thrive was something greater than her own.

She closed her eyes and smiled. Trusting that God would see her through. Trusting that her hands were being held by Christ's almighty touch.

She placed her hands once more on the piano and slowly went through the notes until her fingers were flying joyously across the keys.

Thank you for the assignment. That was fun. :-)

Thank you for the beautiful post. You are a inspiring writer.


Melody said... {Reply}

Elizabeth Rose: Yes, as I was writing this I was thinking about all those who aren't musical, and trying to come up with a good situation that would pertain to them. I think you've hit it in the head! And yes, if I let myself stop and do something else, that would most likely help. Thanks for the suggestion! :)

Leah: I'm so glad you were inspired! I really like what you wrote - not only because it's beautiful and true, but because it speaks to me as well. The goal of playing music (even monotonous music) should be to bring Christ glory in some way or another. Thank-you for the reminder, and for a beautiful ending. :)

Anyone else inspired to finish the piece? :)


Memzie said... {Reply}

I truly understand. Oh, you have no idea how much I truly understand. I am a pianist also; have been for nine years.
I actually just experienced this last Sunday. I had a recital that day and my practice sessions were out right awful. I was forgetting huge chunks of my music, hitting every wrong note, I cried, I hammered the keys in a rage, had fits of hatred, and was in complete horror at my state. I relate totally!!!

I think to have a dramatic effect, leave us hanging. Have us questioning, "Will she continue? Will she give up?". I like endings where we have to come up with the answer. The author has given us the details of the scene, the characters psych, the plot, the theme, etc all those tools for us to make the decision because we think we know the character well enough to know what she will do. I love it! But that is just me.

Just want to let you know, Melody, that you are not alone with the whole 'pianist's frustration' thing. I get it all the time! I don't know if you were looking for people to relate but just know that there are people who get it.


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