catapult magazine

catapult magazine


I am ...


Apr 27 2004
11:57 pm

It took me a really long time to be able to say “I am a pianist.” Even though I’ve [i:2b792432e1]played[/i:2b792432e1] the piano for twenty years, studied it, taught it, explored it, battled it, it seemed so pretentious to say “I am a professional classical pianist.” I mean, I’m not playing at Carnegie Hall, I don’t travel the world—I’m not a prodigy. Piano was, for a very very long time, something I did because I was really good at it and it was rewarding, but I didn’t think about it as my vocation.

Last year, I had to decide whether or not to go back to school for my doctorate in piano. I finished my masters two years ago, and have been teaching ever since. Teaching is ok but I wasn’t fulfilled, so I made the conscious choice to apply for doctoral programs. I knew this would entail almost a full year of hard, hard work—70-80 hour work weeks, 5 or 6 hours of practicing a day, no rest or balance in my life. I still decided, after much thought and prayer, to go for it. And it was only after consciously deciding that this is what I WANT to do, struggling for musical breakthroughs because I CHOSE to struggle, and completing goals that seemed unattainable, that I felt like I had earned the right to say “I am a pianist.” I remember distinctly when this realization came—only three or four months ago, one day as I was walking down the street, out of the blue. It was very freeing.

As a sidenote: the realization came BEFORE I was accepted into a doctoral program. It was the process, the struggle, and the choosing that allowed me to claim my vocation—not the external reward.