I wish I’d known how to practice as a kid.

But at least I know how to do it now, and I can get more done now when I have less time to do it as a working adult. So I suppose now is when I need the knowledge of how to practice efficiently the most.

Nevertheless, I’m constantly struck by the way that hard things become easy when you know how to approach them. Not just when you “work hard,” but when you know how to work. When I was a kid, “practicing” meant doing it over and over and over and expecting it to get better eventually by magic or something — or at least that was the theory. It never worked, and always resulted in a crash and burn on stage. It always resulted in the out-of-control feeling of having no influence over my fate, and whether something would go right or wrong was just a matter of blind chance.

Well, not really. Under stress and on stage, it wasn’t blind chance. It was 100% chance of blowing it.

And now, when I’m supposedly “too old” to learn how to get better because “everyone knows” that the adult mind can’t learn things as well as kids, I’m suddenly burning up things I would have had no chance at as a kid. Oh, there will always be things I’m not that good at or that feel clumsy under my hands. (I’ve read Emmanuel Ax say the same thing though, so I don’t feel so bad about that.) And I won’t be playing Rachmaninoff any time soon — or ever, mostly because I still can’t force my brain to sit still on someone else’s dots long enough to learn them anymore.

But still — I’ve seen myself take a methodical, informed approach to things that were intimidating as all hell, and I’ve been able to bring them into the realm of doability or into the realm where I know that with time, I would be able to do them. I have less time and am (supposedly fatally) older and yet am better than I was as a kid.