Finding the humility in creativity

I’ve been taking piano lessons for 6 years along with my children. They have caught up and surpassed me in their performance skill. I’m still holding a lead in theory, but I expect that’ll go away in the next few years. The friendly competition helps motivate them: “Look, I can play this piece that Mom can’t!” And “I’ll know theory as well as Mom one day.”

I think of quitting, but not because my kids are better; it’s that I’m not really good at piano and not improving much. I struggle through pieces and never get them polished or up to the speed expected. Is it worth the money and time my family pays to keep me going when I have no prospects of being good enough to perform for someone?

Well, when I consider quitting I get very sad. As untalented as I am, I love it. I have plenty of creative outlets through my art and writing, which I have talents for, so what’s up? Why does piano matter to me?

The rest of this post doesn’t have that answer because I don’t really know.

Creative expression is fundamental to all of us. Yet, how often do we say we don’t have the time, the money? How often do we say we shouldn’t waste resources on something like piano lessons that see no practical reward? Still, if, at the end of the day, you regret not doing something, how will you feel at the end of the week, of the year…of your life? It doesn’t have to be practical or results-oriented. It doesn’t need a reason.

This is one of those “it’s the journey” posts. Sure, a platitude that means little when I see it posted on Facebook, but when I put it in the context of how I feel about learning this damn sonatina, I get it.

Continuing with my study is impractical, but “practical” isn’t the thing that makes me happy. I think it’s because learning piano is absolutely impractical that it is more enjoyable, even stress-relieving, than my other arts. Piano isn’t monetized like my other creative activities, either. With writing and illustration, the product is about selling in addition to simply enjoying. And I really hate that sometimes, but that’s for another post.

Maybe this is like those adult coloring books that are popular. My girlfriend does them to help her relax, and I’ve seen them at nearly every store recently. They even have apps. So, some people color, and I’ll keep practicing piano. Besides, I’m also doing something I’m not good at. Many people do things only if they do them well, but there’s value in humility. It’s good for me — and for my kids — to see them doing something better than me.