Wednesday, October 22, 2014

From The Beginning

What do Reservoir Dogs and a Piano Concert for 6 year olds have in common?

Well, this Mr Black, once had to play at a concert. I was a Teaching Assistant for 18 months in between school and university and the school I was at was very musical with a very supportive teacher. When he found out I had always wanted to play piano, he showed me middle C and arranged for lessons. A few months later there was a parents concert for the students at my level, i.e. the 6 and 7 year olds. Now I presume this was an opportunity for the older, more mature, experienced 19 year old to show the youngsters that there was nothing to be worried about. Let's just say, I felt... Conspicuous.

When my turn came it started ok. I could play the pieces. I had practiced a lot. But I had practiced in the quiet of the music school after hours. Mid way through my first piece I froze. I looked down and all I saw was white and black. I had no idea where to put my fingers. I started again. Then froze somewhere else. Again, I couldn't push through as I was completely lost. Surely I couldn't start again... just push through. The embarrassment swelled and if my tear ducts weren't welded shut by toughness (and they weren't), my eyes would have welled up. I moved on to the next song which went a bit better.

Now being consoled when you are 6 is one thing. Being consoled by someone who is 6 is quite another. The whole next day I had very compassionate little people coming up to me and saying, 'Don't worry Mr Black, I thought you tried very hard.'

'Can I start again?' is something I have heard often. In public speaking, acting or any performance piece. We seldom learn things starting from a variety of places. Preparing for interruption. Preparing for things to go wrong. Forgetting the first line can basically mean forgetting the whole thing. Here lies the connection to Reservoir Dogs. Mr Orange has to come up with a story to convince the bad dudes that he is for real. An amusing anecdote.  He gets given some advice about how to make it his own. How to internalise it. When it comes to the performance, there were plenty of interruptions but he could not afford to look down and see just (Mr) Black and (Mr) White. He was not surrounded by compassionate 6 year olds. He did a great job.

So this time round as I relearn the piano, I am making a concerted effort to learn to deal with interruption and play on through. To be able to start from anywhere. To internalise the songs rather than just learn to play them from the beginning. One day, I hope to be able to play well enough to genuinely impress the little people.

(P.S. Don't watch the Reservoir Dogs clips if you aren't a Tarantino fan, or if you are 6)

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