How rock climbing inspired my piano playing

If you always do what is easy and choose the path of least resistance, you never step outside your comfort zone. Great things don’t come from comfort zones

Roy Bennett

A few weeks ago I went rock climbing for the first time.

I’m not great with heights so it was quite a big deal for me. I’ve been a few times to watch other people and always thought how brave they were. But when it came to my turn I certainly didn’t feel brave!

There were a couple of moments when I really didn’t think I’d be able to pull myself up, but I got to the top and collapsed on the floor in a relieved heap! Afterwards, the whole experience did get me thinking though, and particularly so when I sat down to play the piano.

As a music teacher it’s great to have a playing session purely for me every so often. No practising of piano accompaniments or looking through pieces for students. I’m not sitting at the piano as a teacher but as a player.

Hands up if in a playing session you automatically reach for the music you can play or feel you have a good chance of performing successfully! I know I find myself doing it. It’s so easy to pick out known pieces or sight-read those that don’t look quite so busy on the page.

Is this really pushing us forward as players though?

As I climbed up the rocks there were certain bits that jutted out and I didn’t know how I was going to get past them. The temptation to find a way back down and give up was strong (although probably not possible or sensible!). It can be like that with music. You reach a section that seems impassable or hard work and there can be a great desire to turn the page and move on to something else .

After the rock climbing session I have tried not to turn the page on music that looks out of my comfort zone. By continually challenging myself I’m hopeful it will help me progress even further as a player. I might even discover new favourites in the process!

What have you played recently that took you out of your comfort zone?

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