Life, Miscellaneous

Idiot Repetition? I’m Your Girl.

Christmas - Christmas Last weekend I took my first piano lesson. After being told I wasn’t musical all during my childhood, I was afraid I wouldn’t even be teachable–but the instructor assures me that yes, I am, and I’ll just need practice. Loads and loads of practice.

This I can do. Throwing myself at something repeatedly until it sticks is somewhat of a specialty of mine. You could say it’s the only reason I ever enjoy any success at all. *looks rueful* Things that call for sheer talent? Nope, not for me, ‘kay, thanks, bye. But things that call for idiot repetition until you get the hang of it? This, this I can do.

So…it’s a half-hour of practice a day. Every day. I’d like to be able to play at least some of the Goldberg Variations by the time I’m 50. I figure it’s like writing–get in the habit of doing every day, and the rest will take care of itself.

Of course I was incredibly nervous for the lesson, but some things helped–the fact that I looked at the teacher and thought “wow, I could break him”–he’s that slim type–and the further fact that I was paying for it, so the teacher’s at least a little invested in the idea I can learn, and the marvelously comforting fact that I could just leave and nobody could stop me…well, you get the idea. And furthermore, recitals aren’t required. So i won’t have to play for anyone. I can practice at home or in a soundproofed room at the teacher’s, with only one other person present. So I have some freedom to mess up.

In short, this looks like a neat way of strengthening the wiring in my braaaaaaain. Which will no doubt make me a juicy target for the zombies, but all the running will be useful then. There won’t be a call for piano playing after the apocalypse, but until then, it’ll keep me occupied.

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Talent won’t do much for you without discipline. You are absolutely right about making the force of habit work for you!


As a musician myself, I promise that talent is unnecessary – just a bonus. Daily practice is the only essential item. Learning an instrument is a wonderful & weird journey – the pianist Jeremy Denk wrote a lovely piece for The New Yorker about his early piano lessons that you might find interesting. I hope you will keep us posted on your new adventure. I for one would enjoy hearing about your observations.
Thank you very much for your books & blog; I am a long-time reader of both!


There will be a need for piano playing after the apocalypse. No video games. No TV. No movies. How will you entertain yourself and the younglings? Piano. Boom!


Not idiot repetition; call it “persistence”.