Lesson Well Learned

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The black and white keys mesmerized me, as always. They were of another ancestry – Steinway – different from the Yamaha I owned; but as I sat on the meticulously handcrafted ebony bench, I felt at home. My hands floated effortlessly upward, and my fingers landed in their proper positions. A single twitch of my left pinky began the piece, and I filled Weill Recital Hall with one of Chopin’s melodious legacies. The dynamics were ideally executed, and the notes played with great precision; but as my fingers flew over the keys, my memory became foggy. As instantaneously as a sharp bee sting, my hands ceased all movement and my mind turned blank. It had been a busier week than usual, and I had convinced myself that a few days without Chopin would be simple to recover from. After all, I considered myself highly proficient with the piece. Those few days turned into a week, and soon it was the day before the performance—but I had played through the song only a handful of times. I assured myself that it would not help to worry, and that practicing a few hours before the concert would be more than sufficient. In retrospect, I wish I knew that what goes around comes around, and by not practicing I was only putting my satisfaction with myself at risk. Success is earned and will only come to those who invest in achieving it. It is unfortunate to admit that practicing during the extra two hours of sleep I got could have rescued me from the embarrassment I felt that fateful day. In about a month’s time, I found myself seated in almost an identical situation—except this time I had more confidence. Once again, I carefully placed my hands on the keys. Even though I felt anxious as I recalled my previous humiliation, I was certain about the outcome of this performance. Minutes later, my commitment was rewarded as applause filled the concert hall. In the end, I learned that talent is nothing without the dedication put forth to nurture the gift.

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