Still in the woodshed …

… with the five-sharp thing. It’s not bad. Once again, I start out thinking, “There is no way I will be able to play this!” and then, with enough effort, it starts to coalesce or at least give indications that it will coalesce with more effort.

There really is nothing to beat the motivation of playing one’s own music in order to gain technique. I could learn a lot of this stuff by playing someone else’s music, but there’s only so much effort I’m willing to put into it if it’s someone else’s stuff, and there are already armies of amateur pianists doing it. (To say nothing of the pros who can toss this stuff off in their sleep.) I mean, really — does the world need yet one more amateur schlub playing a Chopin etude?

But with the things I’m writing, I either learn how to play them, or they won’t get played. In fact, they won’t even get written, because when I hit a major section break, the best way to figure out where the music wants to head next is to just play it casually and naturally, record it, and then listen to it a few times and let it marinate. Can’t play-and-record if I can’t play.

I’m more willing to put in the effort needed to get something down if it’s my own message that’s being communicated. There really is nothing to beat internal motivation. I’ll work way harder to say something unique to myself than to repeat something someone else said, no matter how great it was.

Everyone’s different, and I’m glad there are people willing to burn the midnight oil on other people’s music or else I would never ever have fallen in love with so much Rachmaninoff. There’s no way I’m going to ever play his Musical Moment #4 in this lifetime. But I think I’m just too lazy and unmotivated naturally, in a way. It’s a way of turning a disadvantage — inherent laziness and quick tendency to boredom — into an advantage. Even at what I thought was the height of my abilities as a teen taking fairly demanding lessons, I could never have done what I’m doing now. If someone else had written this five-sharp thing and my teacher had put it in front of me when I was 17, I would have despaired of ever getting it right. I could never have sustained the interest level needed to do the requisite 39,000,000 repetitions.

But it’s my own idea, so now I’m not even questioning that 39,000,000 number. If I don’t do it, I won’t be able to write the rest of the thing, so … best get cracking on it!

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