Discipline…motivation…trying to care

As a piano teacher and choir director, one of my jobs at school is to be a motivator, to encourage my students to reach higher, achieve greater, stretch their limits.  In order to reach their goals, discipline is key–nothing can be accomplished without a set goal, and the will to carry it through.

How is it that I am able to do this for others, yet consistently fail when trying to apply discipline to my own life?

Last night I performed at the Vocális Chamber Choir benefit at the Mansion on Delaware.  I accompanied Daniel Fischer on “Five Lewis Carroll Songs” by John Duke, pretended to be a jazz pianist for singer Mary Stahl, and collaborated with a handful of Brahms’ “Liebeslieder Waltzes.”  Someone who I greatly respect as a musician approached me afterward and said, “You should play more.” I smiled graciously, thanked her profusely, and agreed wholeheartedly.

I would love to perform more.  I love collaborative piano.  The energy that is created within a room where two or more musicians are working together to create something beautiful, something fleeting, something unique–it fascinates me.  No matter how exhausted I am, spiritually or physically, simply playing music with someone else rejuvenates me.

Yet there are limitations to what can be accomplished in the day.  Two small children, a full-time teaching job, a house to manage, bills to fumble around with, relationships to maintain, personal demons to battle.  Each time I set out to carve a few moments in the day to accomplish something positive such as more practice time, I invariably fail.  Or, to put it more realistically/positively, life happens.  The best of intentions…

In the end, I treasure the occasions where I can be a pianist and musical collaborator.  I may not always play as well as I would like to play, and may not always be as prepared as my militant perfectionist self would like to play, but if I bring a spark of joy into the lives of listeners, even for just a moment, I have achieved success.

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It would help tremendously if…

…I remembered to save changes once I’ve made them.

…I had a personal assistant to remind me of the thing I was just thinking about three minutes ago, before I was distracted.

…I brought a lunch to school.

…I didn’t bring the catalogs I haven’t looked at over the past three weeks back and forth to school.

…Connor would bounce out of bed as quickly on school mornings as he does on weekends.  (Calvin and Hobbes)

…I had a second cellphone charger.