Liz Garton Scanlon (liz_scanlon) wrote,
Liz Garton Scanlon

Poetry Friday -- Piano Practice

This week at her piano lesson, my younger daughter tried to wiggle out of playing the piece she's been struggling with.

"I'll play Procession twice," she tried to bargain with her teacher. "I'm no good at Lullaby."

"Ahhh," said her teacher. "I'll bet you said that a lot this week. And each time you said it, it became bigger and more real. You're adding to this great big pot of I'm no good at Lullaby."

She held out a round wooden box as evidence. 
My girl looked into it and sure enough, it was full. 

"So let's figure out a new way to talk about this piece," said her teacher. "A more positive way."

My daughter was skeptical. She didn't want to lie, for one thing.
Lullaby was really and truly stumping her. 

But they agreed, finally, on this:
"Lullaby is a work in progress."

And then my nearly 7-year-old put her nose down and worked it, for twenty minutes.
Something that hadn't happened all week.

By the time we left, Lullaby was a lovely work in progress.
And I'm not just saying that.

I nearly missed this moment. 
Usually my husband does piano lesson while I do yoga. 
But he was traveling for work so I was on duty. And a good thing, too. 
Because I sat there on the sidelines, re-learning a lesson myself. 
That I can use as a parent. 
And a teacher. 
And a writer:

So much of life is process. 
And much of process takes practice.
We might as well embrace where we're at. All the time.

And along with practice and process comes perspective. 
How we look at life and talk about it defines how we feel about it and, ultimately, how we actively (or inactively) respond to our challenges and our gifts.

Today, my sonnet is a work in progress.
My house is a work in progress.
My marriage is a work in progress.
The presidential election is a work in a progress.
World peace is a work in progress.

And that's a good thing.

Here's a poem by Linda Pastan, in celebration of all that:


My son is practicing the piano.
He is a man now, not the boy
whose lessons I once sat through,
whose reluctant practicing
I demanded-part of the obligation
I felt to the growth
and composition of a child.

(To read the rest of this poem, click here ...)

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