You can’t take away your lungs and expect your body to function as it did before. They are a vital part of your well-being. For those of us who have dedicated our lives to learning an instrument, we can’t just suddenly not be a musician. Fooling ourselves into think we’re different than who we are is akin to living without a major organ.
That said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a break. Musically, everything went wrong for me in Hawaii. I can’t explain it but I suddenly couldn’t even play the stuff in the Children’s Songbook without stumbling. I was a blundering mess. I stopped trying and I focused on the rest of my life at that time. (Working at the PCC, going to school full time, student teaching, and being a new wife was plenty!) I didn’t even miss playing the piano. Honestly. I played the hymns in church sometimes and that was enough.
It was the same in Virginia. I played for RS on Sunday mornings and that was my only music for the whole week.
It was even less when we moved here. As much as we hinted and downright campaigned for me to have a music calling, I never have. Other than the very sparse piano moments I didn’t even touch a piano unless at my mother-in-law’s.
I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t play but it was physical, mental, and emotional. And then … suddenly, the clouds parted and “get a piano, now” could not have been more clearly heard in my head. It was all I could think.
And I’m back.
Just as I couldn’t explain why I needed a decade-long break from music, I can’t explain how it all came back. But it did. My head is back in the right place and I can synthesize all I’ve learned all those years ago. My muscles are not as strong as they used to be, but with time my technique is returning and my touch is certainly more mature. I am at peace with the break I had.
When I was myopically focusing on pianopianopiano I constantly stuggled with not being good enough. There is always someone who can sight read faster than you, always someone who can pick out a melody by ear, always someone who can see the chord progressions without painstaking analysis, and always, always, always someone who can play that piece I worked on for months, better, and with less time to learn. It’s hard to compare yourself and always come up short.
It isn’t the Lord’s way for there to be only a few best people while the rest of us struggle with mediocrity. Each of us, with our various talents, interests, and opportunities, needs to be the best version of our own selves. If we do that, we’ll be more beautifully diverse than all the flora of the world.
I am not the best pianist, nor the best teacher, nor the best at any one thing. But I am the best me, and all of my experiences and perspectives make me different from everyone else. That break from piano may just have been what the doctor ordered to realign my priorities.