It's been far too long since my last post. Life was busy, and has been getting busier--up until this very morning. I've been very busy harvesting the fruits of the projects I've been working on. This week, I had a Spanish final, two AP tests (English Language and Composition, and World History), a Piano Festival, and then finally this morning an audition for a piano scholarship. I may not have distinguished myself greatly, but nevertheless it was a great experience, if tiring.
This morning's audition was very challenging for me. I played three very difficult pieces, though they were still on the low end of the difficulty spectrum of my peer's repertoire. There was some good and some not-so-good, and I was incredibly fortunate to be adjudicated by two amazing and very honest internationally-recognized professionals. They had plenty to say about all my pieces, mostly criticism but a few very encouraging bright spots. It was really hard to read and take, especially as most of the things they talked about I had already tried to integrate into my pieces, but nerves had erased.
I did think, though: If life really was "everyone's a winner," then there'd be no reason to grow and become better. We learn from our weaknesses and criticisms, painful though they be. We recognize the best, and aspire to be like them--but at the same time, we also need to remember that they, too, are not yet perfect. Even masters can have places they need to grow--Chopin was terrified of large crowds all his life.
At the same time, if we are always being criticized, it will almost always become detrimental. Lifting weights is good, but doing too much will cause injury. That's why we should be careful how and when we open ourselves to criticism, and to what kind. Do we really want to work for months to go to a competition that has a hundred contestants, but only gives vague, general comments? In my mind, these kinds of competitions are worthless for all but the very, very highest--for people who have crossed the threshold into the "80-20 rule", where growth comes ever slower--there's less to learn, and eventually one even starts pioneering and breaking new ground. Subtlety becomes the order of the day. But while 100 percent is not possible for anyone, some do get to the 99.9 percent range--and that last .01 percent keep subdividing into .001 and .0001.
This is where I want to be with my music. It may take another 5 years, it may take 25 years, it may take 55 years. But this is what I aspire to grow into. And only by doing the exercise, taking the criticism, lifting those weights, and finding joy in every step of the journey will that happen.