Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Doing What We Don't Want to Do

My youngest daughter spent half an hour practicing the guitar tonight. Before she started that, she sang and danced to the cd playing. But when I asked her to practice her piano before bed, she really fought it. First she tried the whole, "I don't know what the notes are" and "I don't know where to put my fingers." I know she is just trying to mess with my brain and she did finally play the songs. She loves music and is the girl most likely to turn on the karaoke machine and sing along, she is in her school choir and is excited to be taking guitar lessons from her grandpa. But she views the piano lessons as a way for her mother to torture her.

I keep telling her she needs more time on the piano even if she doesn't like it. It will help her learn the basics of reading music and if she can just stick with it, she'll be grateful for the skill later on. It will make band class easier, playing the guitar easier and even help her when she wants to sing. Of course, she can't see that at ten years old, but hopefully she'll get there.

It got me thinking about the writing related things I don't like doing. I wrote many papers in school and wrote for the local newspaper for a few years. Now I have to write synopsis's and cover letters if I want to send my novels out. None of this is writing I enjoy, but there is value in the work. I just want to tell a good story. But the exercise of writing news articles and coming up with a synopsis have taught me how to tighten my writing and say what I need to say with fewer words.

This is true so often. We have to make the connection between the things we dislike and the things we love. Just like learning to play the piano will make learning to do other musical activities easier, every type of writing I work at will make all the other things I write that much better. Now if I could just get her to understand this, practice time at our house would be so much more enjoyable for everyone.

1 comment:

Don said...

I took piano for six years, and can barely play anything on one now. But I count ten different instruments that I have played in bands or on my own. Plus I sing well enough to not get kicked out of the Ward Choir.

If it helps, you can tell your daughter there is a stranger on the internet who agrees she should continue learning the piano.

And I must also agree with your writing analogy. Well done.

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