Resiliency

Lewis Carol

The struggle

I have a confession to make- I struggled with correctly spelling the word ‘Resiliency’ (twice). But, I paused, thought about it, course corrected, and moved on. I believe we are constantly being tested and our resiliency will make us or break us, in life and in music making. By the way, I am happy to report that by the third time I wrote the word ‘resiliency’, I had no troubles.

At the turn of the new year, I was *so* pumped to roll into 2020 like never before. I could not wait to see what this year has in store. I don’t know if it’s the start of a new decade, or simply that it is the year 2020 (how cool is that!?). I mean, how lucky are we to get to witness a year that functions as an expression and as an eyesight prescription! The number 2020 has so many meanings, and is so perfectly patterned. In 2020, I have multiple presentations for piano teachers scheduled, a family trip to Mexico, concerts of my original music booked, my album launch, local concerts performing in musicals, dance performances in Miami and Chicago choreographed to my original music, a yoga retreat in Hawaii with my lifelong bestie, family visits, and the list goes on. What could be better?

But! Within the first week of 2020, I have been hit with some very minor whammies. Within one week, the School of Rock musical I was scheduled to play for weeks in May did not get its’ rights approved, so it’s a no-go. Then, the director from the theater in the park show I was excited to play for this summer told me she would find someone else for various reasons, after I may or may not have changed my San Francisco solo concert that fell on the same weekend, and now the venue is completely booked in 2020. Yikes. Sadly, the church I adored playing for once a month last year suddenly doesn’t need me until April. My beloved long time student who is pure joy to work with decided she is taking a break until spring (hopefully), and the list continues. The biggest whammy came when I blocked out my schedule for three months after being hired for a very exciting musical theater production in town. I was excited to play that particular music, to work with the fun new director, and most importantly, to feel personally and musically connected in my new community. Out of nowhere, the gig was offered to someone else. I think you get the point….

The perspective

Each of these tiny tidbits of bad news feels like a little punch in the gut. I sit with the uncomfortable sensations in my body. I say to myself that these opportunities were not meant for me. I try to move forward with as much grace and humility as I can muster. I realize these are not life altering events. The international piano teaching community has been hit very hard with life changing events in the last few months and my heart aches for some inspiring teachers around the globe. This story is completely unrelated and simply shines a light on coping with mild set backs, not life altering traumatic events.

Some people might take all of these little set backs as a sign to throw in the towel. I see them as par for the course. I am realizing that I am an eternal optimist. My gut reaction often says, “Of course this will work! Of course they will say yes. Of course this new product launch will be wanted by all!” Then, if it doesn’t go as planned and hoped for (my product release, my grant application, my concert pitch, etc.), I am continually surprised. I think this optimistic (or is it delusional!?) outlook serves me well.

I am about to pitch my multi-media concert idea to presenters, knowing full well that in my industry, it is common to get 90-95% rejections, or even worse, you might never get a response at all. Regardless, I follow full steam ahead, heart fully engaged, hopes held high, clearly knowing that these are my odds. If I were constantly shutting things down before they had a chance, there would be a 100% guarantee of failure, rather than a 90-95% chance of rejection. Somehow, the 5-10% success rate keeps me believing that I have a massive chance of achieving all that I strive for. As the band Journey likes to say, Don’t Stop Believing!

Music making teaches us

The pursuit of music mastery mirrors life in so many ways and instills wonderful inner strength building qualities. In all phases of music learning, we must constantly keep an open and curious mind. We have to have a love of learning and an appreciation for the process. Those who expect quick miracles and rapid improvement are usually disappointed. We must have patience for ourselves and patience for the process. We must trust and accept ourselves where we are. Each day that we work on mastering a skill, we improve bit by bit, or sometimes not at all. Some skills take months (or longer!) to master, until we finally feel like we have reached a new plateau. Over time, we are able to make huge strides with proper guidance and support.

In music, things don’t always go as planned. Performances might not always go as well as we dream they will. Learning new music or foreign skills might first involve feelings of frustration or disappointment while we try, fail, repeat, and finally succeed. Someone else, at some point, is bound to land the audition. We don’t always score high on our performance exam, or win first prize in the competition, or get chosen by that prestigious artist management company. Sometimes we will fall, but if that spark and the desire are there for what we want to achieve, we must always get up, and try, try again. Because when we finally achieve our little dreams and goals, it feels so sweet. Until, the next setback! Not to worry. It is all a part of the process of growing as a musician, and as a human being.

What’s your take on going out on a limb and putting yourself out there? What have you done recently that required bravery and perseverance?

How do you teach resiliency to your students?

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretsky

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5 thoughts on “Resiliency

  1. You are one smart cookie. I admire your resilience, positivity and determination. As an aside, the example you are setting for your daughters is impressive. Even if they never realize the impression you are making on them they will surely benefit.

    Sadly, many men and women do not realize what used to be; how hard i was for a women to pursue her dreams and drive-her calling. I am thankful you push forward even when situations are disappointing. DO NOT allow such situations to prevent you from doing what makes you whole.

    With much admiration, I submit this commentary.

  2. I’m sorry you’re going through so many disappointments and all at the same time. Good for you for not giving into discouragement and bitterness. You’re so talented and the things you’ve created are so useful to the piano teaching world. Please know you’re cared about and respected. Things will turn around in their time. ❤️

  3. Love this! If we never try, we will never know. You are doing GREAT things. I have a feeling that all these things you had originally planned are falling out of place because you need to make room for all the great things that are coming! Things always work out in the end. I can’t wait to hear more about the multi-media concert idea. I am rooting for you!!!

  4. Thanks for sharing your disappointments ! I know those feelings of stomach punch. A student “ is going to take a break” , a nice way of saying “ I am not taking lessons anymore”. And this is after you’ve poured your energy, caring and heart into these students. No explanation. And the first question we tend to ask is’ where did I fail ?”
    By sharing your experience you comforted me in feeling like I’m not the only one. You had quite a pile of disappointments! And obviously you’re still alive and will be presented with other opportunities down the road.
    Those ‘ injuries’ of unexpected rejections can either defeat us or make us resilient! And that can also be called …….strength!

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