What Playing An Instrument Has Taught Me

What Playing An Instrument Has Taught Me

Music lessons are actually life lessons.
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“Wee Small Bear” was my first piano piece. According to the song, “Wee small bear, [wore] wee small shoes, slept in his wee small bed. He [wore] a wee small baseball cap upon his wee small head.” I learned a lot from the wee small bear, but, as I continued to take piano lessons and enter competitions through high school, I learned a lot more. After 13 years of playing the piano, music is not only a part of who am, but it has made me into who I am. I have music to thank for developing the following qualities.



Motivation

Each year, my teacher would give me piano pieces that pushed me just far enough past my level that they seemed impossible. Learning new music requires hours of monotonous repetition and practice that often leads people to write off playing an instrument as boring. However, I've learned that as long as I stay motivated, I can nail any difficult passage. I can ace the most daunting exam. I just have to be self-driven.



Work Ethic

If you only put a fraction of effort into learning a piano piece, there is no hiding it when you step onto the stage to perform. It is too late. I've been there. I've blanked out. I have wanted to run off of the stage in shame. When it comes time to perform, all that matters is the work that you put in beforehand. You can luck out and slide by on rare occasions, but true success means hard work in both piano and in life.



Confidence

Performing on a stage with strangers and experts judging you makes a lot of other things in life less unnerving. Confidence is key (pun totally intended). Intimidating situations can make it feel like everyone wants to watch you fail, but the truth is that there are a lot of people rooting for you.



Focus

Playing an instrument teaches you that practice does not always make perfect. Practice makes permanent. It's only when you are completely invested in what you are doing that you can make the best use of your time.

Passion

When someone has their favorite piece memorized, they don't say, "I can play it by my hippocampus." They say, "I can play it by heart." We know that there is a difference in playing by rote memorization and by heart. When you play by heart, performing is no longer about the notes and dynamics. It is more about channeling the feeling of the piece and letting the music tell a story. You can learn all of the notes and have all the focus, but your performance will be lackluster without the realization that music is powerful. Music has the ability to reach and inspire others and you can harness its power to do the same.



Goal Setting

Mastering difficult music has taught me that I can accomplish practically anything that I set my mind to. Just as I would divide a piece into measures and subsections to learn, accomplishing big goals means setting smaller goals. It has also taught me that sometimes you make mistakes, but that is no reason to stop trying.



Playing the piano will never just be a hobby to me. Learning to play was the first time that I felt a fire to not be just good, but the best. I did not win every competition that I entered, but, as cliché as this may be, the true victory was in the lessons that I learned along the way. Today, I am not majoring in piano and my competitive career has ended, but I continue to take lessons. This gives me a chance to not only grow as a musician and spend time playing the instrument I love, but also to look for new pursuits to strive to be my best in and work toward with a fire in my heart.

Cover Image Credit: Suzie Higginbotham Photography

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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My Life With Allergies

Allergy-free people will never understand the struggle.

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Burying your face in a fluffy dog or cat, lying in the grass with friends, disregarding the dust steadily collecting on your nightstand; these are privileges that those of us with allergies are not granted.

I was blessed to be without food allergies but was cursed with most everything else. My list includes, but is not limited to, cats, dogs, dust, pollen, trees, and grass. I distinctly remember waking up at a sleepover, eyes swollen shut, struggling to breathe because Swix the cat had slept next to my face. I realized early in my life that if I ever wanted to be able to have a dog that was not some form of a poodle or postpone my cleaning duties for more than a week, I had to do something about it. Luckily, there are many over-the-counter allergy medications that work wonders for people. I am not one of these people. I regularly take prescription strength allergy medicine along with one or two over-the-counter brands; however, that scarcely keeps my body at bay.

About one year ago I began the long and tedious allergy shot journey. I was injected every two or three days will my allergens, increasing the amount each time. During this stage, I was once administered the wrong amount and went into anaphylaxis. I changed my doctor but continued with the shots. After some time, I reached the next stage where my shots were finally restricted to every two to four weeks. Continuing on this path, I should conclude my shots in approximately five years. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix.

Cherish the times you spend watching movies on the dusty floor with your friends and climbing trees at the park because it's a thousand times harder for me to climb that same tree. For those of you with these same problems, I encourage you to try allergy shots because I have learned that life doesn't have to impair your breathing.

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