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When A Music Lesson Becomes A Life Lesson

Written by: Victoria Chardon, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

When I was a child, I always wanted to learn an instrument. I begged for violin lessons, but my mum refused (on reflection, I can understand why she didn’t want me scraping strings in our tiny apartment). I had a brief but intense love affair with the drum kit in the music room at school, but that had even less chance of receiving my mother’s approval. I was allowed to learn the recorder, but that doesn’t really count as an instrument. What I really, really wanted was to learn the piano.

I had an over-achieving friend at school who was already at Grade 8 proficiency and, to me, played as beautifully as Beethoven. She would gather us around the piano before class and play songs from the Titanic soundtrack, making our twelve-year-old hearts swoon (I went to a girls’ school, Leo was our God.) I longed to be able to make my fingers dance over the keys like she could, reading the strange code on the music sheets and turning it into tunes that would make my heart soar.


Let’s fast-forward twenty-something years. My musical dreams were long-abandoned, but never forgotten. I found myself in a position to finally do something about them. We were in the middle of a lockdown; our collective social life had shriveled up, and I realized I had the things I needed to make my dream come true: time, space, and cash. Excited, I bought an electric piano which I set up in my office, and I hired a teacher. My husband was dubious — he’s witnessed my ‘fads’ for the past eight years and thought this was a passing craze. I gave him a piece of my mind and told him that as he decided to marry me, he’s contractually required to support my artistic endeavors. And with that, I threw myself into Piano Grade 1.


Reader, it was so much harder than I expected.


My inner twelve-year-old thought this would be a form of creative expression. My adult self realized that learning piano was more mechanical and - shock, horror - mathematical than I expected. I knew it was going to take commitment, daily practice, and self-motivation to make any progress. And indeed, for the first few months, I had an abundance of those things. I studied the theory, did my homework, and played one particular song from the Grade 1 book so many times that I heard it in my sleep. There was something cozy about sitting at the keys, the rain pattering softly against the window, the dog snoring gently beside me. But as the months wore on, the theory became more complicated as we moved into Grade 2, the lockdowns eased, and my enthusiasm to keep playing ‘Taking A Naughty Dog For A Walk’ waned. I realized that my heart didn’t want to go on. I was never going to play Titanic on the piano.


After seven months, I quit my lessons.


My husband rejoiced in his ‘I told you so’s’ as he listed the piano on eBay. But I don’t see my decision to stop as a failure. Quite the opposite, actually. There’s an important life lesson in this story.


I’m sure you thought from the title of this article that the lesson was going to be about commitment, never giving up, and overcoming difficulty. This isn’t that article or that lesson.

The lesson here is about jumping into curiosity, being prepared to succeed OR fail, and not letting the expectations of others weigh you down as you follow your heart.


I could have given up on the dream to learn an instrument forever, and spent my entire life wondering whether I’d be any good at it. I could have let the fear of judgment from others stop me from going for it in the first place or keep me plowing at something I wasn’t enjoying anymore. I could have kept struggling through, paying for lessons, and feeling worse the more I failed to master it.


I didn’t do any of those things.


Instead, I embraced the opportunity to try something new. I ignored my nay-sayer and my own inner critic and let my inner leader dictate what she wanted to do. She wanted to learn. I learned how to read music, which was always a mystery to me. I even learned how to play with both hands, which felt like a victory! I became good friends with my piano teacher and developed a genuine respect for anyone who can play like my friend at school could. Perhaps most importantly, I recognized the moment when it was time to let go and fully accepted it. I didn’t emerge from the experience as a failure. I emerged more educated, and most importantly, without a big ‘what if?’ hanging over my head for the rest of my life. I had satisfied my curiosity, and it felt good.


When was the last time you allowed yourself to let go of all that fear and judgment and just DO something? This isn’t the first time for me - my husband was right about my fads. And I’m unapologetic about that. Life is rich with experiences; there’s no rulebook that says that we can only start things we’re prepared to do forever (the same goes for reading books, by the way - who says you have to make it to the end, if you aren’t enjoying it? Isn’t life too short for that?)


Yesterday, I sold the piano.


A tiny part of me was sad to see it go. But the wise part of me knows it’s time to move on, to seek out the next lesson, to have the next experience.


Now, who can tell me about the violin?


For more information, follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn and visit my website!


 

Victoria Chardon, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Victoria Chardon specializes in fulfillment, confidence-building, and making big dreams become a reality. As well as being a Google leader who manages an international team, she is the co-founder of Rising Star Leadership, a consultancy that creates personalized coaching programs for groups, individuals, and corporations. Victoria helps people to connect with themselves on a deeper level than they usually would, pulling them away from 'life on the surface' and helping them claim their powerful, unique individuality. She also works with leaders to help them incorporate vulnerability and compassion into their leadership style. She is a vocal advocate on wellbeing and mental health and has taken to the stage on several occasions to share her personal journey and break down the stigma of mental health in the workplace.

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