Everything Is Real

Does that mean that everything requires discipline?

Nicole Dieker

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The other day I made the mistake — well, it was two mistakes, really.

The first mistake was technical: a finger-striking issue in one of the Hanon exercises I was using as my piano-practice warm-up.

The second mistake was critical: Don’t go back and fix that. You don’t have the time. It isn’t important. You have to get on to your REAL MUSIC.

Then I realized — everything I do at the piano is real. It exists, I affect it, and it affects what comes next.

I went back and began digging into the issue that was preventing my fourth finger (it’s always the fourth finger) from cleanly and consistently striking the B flat (it’s always a B flat).

It took me fifteen minutes to learn how to play the passage smoothly.

Did taking those fifteen minutes to work out a problem in a finger exercise hurt my progress on the Mozart? Of course not. The whole point of finger exercises is to help you build the kinds of skills that you can apply to technical challenges in your performance repertoire — but the more important point is that committing to solve this problem helped me build the kind of discipline that I can apply to other kinds of problems.

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Nicole Dieker

Freelance writer at Vox, Bankrate, Haven Life, & more. Author of The Biographies of Ordinary People.