Being a piano player has been part of my identity for right around 25 years. I can still remember the excitement I felt as a 7-year-old when my mom said: “Rachel, do you want to take piano lessons?”
You may think that the main learning experience in this brief story is that I learned to play the piano. However, as I reflect back I realize that this is not entirely true.
I remember on Day One of lessons when my teacher and I opened my John Thompson’s beginner. She asked me what I thought I’d like to play at the recital at the end of the year. The very last song in the book caught my attention, “The Princess Waltz.” That was the song I wanted to play at the recital and nothing could dissuade me.
All year I worked hard, practicing every day and advancing through the book. Finally, it was recital time and I was struggling with “The Princess Waltz.” The broken chords, which are simple for me now, provided a challenge to my young fingers. The idea of playing for a crowd was terrifying. How could I do it? It was at this point I was given some extremely valuable life advice.
My teacher, whose name I have forgotten, told me that I needed to keep going even if I messed up. If I just kept playing, pretending nothing bad had happened, nobody would notice. I was skeptical.
Turns out she was right! Even my parents, who were probably sick to death of “The Princess Waltz” complimented me on a job very well done. I know I made mistakes. But I kept going and everyone enjoyed the end product – a waltz played by a 7-year-old.
Failing is scary and nobody wants to do it. But the fact is, failing (even publicly) is far less noticeable than we think. There is value in showing up and continuing to try.