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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