Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Who Wns?

I am by nature fiercely competitive, partly out of the knowledge that I have no business competing in some of the several ways in which that trait manifests itself--in physical terms, for example.  Put me in an exercise class and I will break my neck rather than acknowledge that I cannot do as the others are doing. 

Hanging out around a music school--which my daughter once called "the wrong crowd"--is rather like that exercise class but with some considerable additional challenge, namely, music.  Pianists compete all the time, to play more notes, to play them faster, louder, more brilliantly, etc.   Early on I chose not to break my neck in that department.

But it has taken me many years to shed the pressures of competition.  That I have finally succeeded in doing so was clear was I could perform two magnificent cycles of music for children in the company of a real hot-shot pianist.  Neither of us would be caught dead or alive playing the preferred repertoire of the other but it is a recent development that I have even been able to discern the magic in these cycles which sound simple though crafted with the utmost insight and skill. Playing that music straight is truly difficult.

If I have finally outgrown my competitive inclination it is thanks to children, my own as well as those I teach.