Jesus Christ, amateur musicians are timid.

What is with all this damned timidity? I’ve found it on string forums as well — and overwhelmingly on the classical ones. There is such a terrified attitude among them — play it wrong too many times, and you are doomed forever to play it wrong ever after! Never touch the piano unless you can play it right! Never play a wrong notes! Play it wrong, and your fingers will fall off! Yes, you can hurt yourself seriously if you play it wrong and stupidly ignore your body’s complaints, and power forward with a brickheaded insistence on Working Through The Pain, or My Teacher Said To Do It This Way, or Perlman Does It This Way On YouTube So I Have To, or worst of all Playing Through Tendonitis Proves How Hardcore I Am.

Christ. Generations of folk musicians have learned to play many instruments without their hands falling off. More and more I’m thinking that the problem with classical musicians is mental and emotional, and not with the ergonomic difficulty of the instruments. They are convinced that they have to abrade themselves on the hard stone altar of classical music and Suffer For Their Art or some other self-abnegating rot, so they ignore pain and end up hurting themselves. Then, they bang on and on about how playing the instrument the wrong way will hurt you. No, being an idiot will hurt you. Ignoring your body will hurt you.

Failing that, classical musicians are terrified of pain — plus being terrified of *M*I*S*T*A*K*E*S* in general — and end up too frightened to so much as do one thing wrong. They never run the risk of hurting their hands because they are too scared of their instrument to play the damned thing.

Hence, too frightened to do anything. Jesus, just sit at the stupid piano and pound on it. Does it sound bad? Well, find a way to make it sound better. That’s why you bought it. Repeat for ten years.

They are timid, they are fearful, and they are engrained submissives. They will never get good because they are too scared to be bad first, which everyone is. Cripes, do these people think Rachmaninoff just sat down at the thing and sounded like that? He had to stink for years before he got that good. If their doom-and-gloom attitude were correct (“Play it too many times wrong, and you’ll play it wrong forever!“), he’d have stunk forever. We’d all stink forever. None of us could ever be better than we were at age 3, and the entire music world would consist of Gabriela Montero playing a toy piano, and no one else.

Shut up, knock it off with the artist’s angst BS, and just play. If it hurts, find a new way to do it. And you’d better resign yourself to the dreaded playing it wrong many, many, many times. You ain’t gonna get good unless you’re willing to stink first. The problem is playing mindlessly many, many, many times. Playing it wrong isn’t a problem, as long as you’re thinking about how to get better.

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