The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

A disdained chore becomes a valuable skill

When I was a child, I, like many other suburban middle-class children, participated in all sorts of after-school activities. I tried baseball for a while, but since no one noticed I was left-handed my throws and batting were generally awful.

Then I tried my hand at basketball. In two years I’m reasonably sure I made one basket, and I was so afraid of fouling the other team members that I could never get in close enough to actually guard my man (I guess I always was a pacifist).

Much as I might have tried to nurture my athletic side, an iron man I certainly would never be. I had comparatively more success when I took up the piano.

Actually, I can’t say that picking up the instrument was a voluntary matter; my parents cajoled me into it when I was 5 years old. I played Hot Cross Buns by age 6 and Bach sonatas by age 16, but that doesn’t mean I was always receptive to my lessons.

From the moment I had my first piano lesson to my very last recital in high school, I detested playing the piano. Practicing scales was a drag, theory was convoluted and when I was first starting out my teacher never let me play any popular tunes. I had little motivation to do well.

I made a game out of just how lazy I could be when it came to practicing. If I had a lesson at 6:30 on Monday night, you could bet I’d be in our living room frantically trying to get the Alberti pattern down on the most recent song my teacher had assigned me to play. And honestly, most of the time I got away with it pretty well.

What I lacked in drive I eventually made up for in sight-reading ability since I often only looked at a piece for the first time with my teacher.

My parents will likely read this article and throw a fit thinking about all of the money that they spent on lessons for me for 12 years and how ostensibly it might have all gone to waste. I can’t fault them for that; after all, when I was younger, I really just didn’t appreciate how lucky I was to be able to read music, know chords and understand theory.

It might be a bit surprising then that the latest method I’ve been using in my perennial battles with schoolwork procrastination is practicing the piano. My residence hall has a piano in one of the lounges that’s generally open for anyone to use.

Last semester I would go in from time to time to work on old scales and chords. Or, if I was feeling really inclined, I might find a piece of sheet music from a popular song and just start practicing it for fun.

It never occurred to me that practicing music could be an enjoyable exercise, but now I delight in it more than ever. I try to set aside 30 minutes to an hour every day just so I can reclaim the skill I once had, and perhaps one day even surpass it.

So perhaps I ought to be thanking my parents for making me go to my piano lessons every week since kindergarten. And perhaps I ought to thank my piano teacher for putting up with obstinate little me for 12 years. I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels this way about coerced extracurricular activities.

All of us probably had to do something when we were younger that we simply didn’t enjoy, but that doesn’t mean that that activity was without significance. Sometimes doing things you don’t like is character building. And sometimes you really don’t appreciate the worth of a certain skill until it’s too late.

Brandon is a sophomore majoring in English.

 

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