My sister-in-law commented how good a visiting pianist was after she had been to one of the very popular monthly lunchtime concerts in the town. I taught music for a number of years and often coined this phrase for the next week’s work, ‘PP’ – ‘Practice makes Perfect’. I used this phrase to encourage my pupils. However, it could be used time and again to encourage anyone, whatever their age or their ability.
I agree that some folks seem to be more gifted than others, but I have come to the conclusion that we are all gifted and that our giftings are an expression of who we are. I could walk into the bedrooms of my children, the houses of my friends, classrooms, gardens, shops – the list goes on – and each one would be different. I could think of the numerous mud pies, edible cakes, colourings or paintings, lego designs and unharmonious musical sounds which have been so proudly exhibited for my praise. Everyone has to start somewhere, don’t they?
My youngest daughter is head of maths, she’s very popular, hard-working and much appreciated. She is an accomplished violinist and saxophonist. Both of these musical accomplishments have come about after much practice, at times together with the anxieties of exams and frustrations and disappointments.
However, her musical renderings were at times far from pleasing to the ear – accompanied by a scratching bow on a violin or the squeaking or blasting of a saxophone. She can play by ear. On occasions she would run into the music room after my music pupil, who had been struggling with ‘Fleur Elise’ by Beethoven, had left. She gave a very bad rendering of her version of the same piece. It would make any music teacher’s hair stand on end. She’s a self-taught pianist and did not want to be taught the piano, perhaps because her mum was a piano teacher! There is so much pleasure in making something which is good. For instance, it can look, feel, sound and taste enjoyable. There might be the occasional flop, but does that matter? We need to either encourage ourselves or keep someone else’s encouragement in mind as we pick ourselves up to persevere in reaching the best of our ability. We can do this even to the point of showing off, just like my daughter used to. It is good to enjoy what we’re doing and not be put off by mistakes, criticism or overbearing judgement. Not to practice reinforces failure and to give praise uplifts and encourages. We need to feel good about ourselves and make others feel good.