Rabbi Daniel Lapin
You Can Make New Music
When I was a young boy my parents enrolled me in lessons so I could learn to play the piano. I practiced a little, but I wasn’t committed to the result of being a competent pianist. I don’t remember how long I took the lessons, but I remember I was thrilled when my teacher told me she was no longer going to be teaching lessons. It seems as if her husband was fine with her teaching students that played well. But, his opinion differed when she taught students such as me. He couldn’t stand another day of listening to her worst students plunk away at his expense. In reality my lack of commitment and skill was at my own expense. I put off learning an important lesson. The real lesson I was supposed to be learning was that I could improve myself through learning, understanding and practice.
Many years later, I had children of my own and wanted them to learn to play the piano. I enrolled them in piano lessons. They didn’t enjoy it much and they didn’t like to practice. I saw so much of myself in them that I looked on it as an opportunity to make up for my own deficiencies by taking lessons along with them. It gave me motivation to learn and practice hard!
I was seated at my piano in my home one night practicing “She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain.” I played it over and over again trying to make my fingers make movements to create music. I went over it time after time so I could make it perfect. After some time, my wife came around the corner and said, “How many more times will she be coming round the mountain?” I had finally learned one of life’s most important lessons! Practice is how new material becomes part of you. It is how we become a better, changed person.
Now after all these years I’ve found that this lesson continues to apply in almost every area of my life. I’ve known for a long time that I needed to develop some new work habits so I could improve my performance. I finally got the internal courage to make a commitment to change and began to move forward. It hasn’t been easy because it’s hard to make permanent changes over night. I’ve failed a lot.
The first time I failed, I felt discouraged and began to lose my faith. As I thought about it more and more I began to hear music in my head. It went something like this: “She’ll be comin’ round the mountain when she comes, she’ll be comin’ round the mountain when she comes! I have a lot more practicing to do before the change becomes part of me and the new music comes from the inside. But, I know with continued practice it will all come together.
It can all come together for you too. If you have some things you’re working on so you can change your life, just remember these same three steps; learn, understand and practice. If you give it a try it won’t be long till she’ll be comin’ round the mountain for you too!