Today's guest post was written by Liz Parker, a publicist who also teachers piano. Sometimes she traumatically frightens her students. You can find out more about Liz at LIZPR.
I am sitting at CBC Radio during a break after a sound check for “Q”. I’m here on a PR run with Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt the creators of the play 2 Pianos 4 Hands, which debuted fifteen years ago in Toronto. It was a smash hit then, and judging by the media interest, will be, again. It’s being re-launched by Mirvish Productions and opens at Panasonic Theatre October 30.
I’m so appreciative of all the media that Ted and Richard are doing – including getting up gross-early (like today) to do sound checks, knowing they have to wait around for an hour before going live on air, plus doing a full media day this past Tuesday that Mirvish set up for them. I was thinking “wow, they’re so discplined about this.” Of course, we all know where that discpline came from.
Both Ted and Richard grew up on a steady diet of piano practice. It was non-negotiable. Either practice or all privleges were suspended. Growing up with a Tiger Mother myself, it was pretty much “practice or throw yourself on that samurai sword right now.”
The whole issue of practicing is one of the most difficult things to deal with if you’re a music student. It is equally one of the most difficult things to enforce as a music teacher or parent. The biggest resentment for kids is practicing, despite refusing to quit. This applies not only to piano, violin, or, god forbid, viola. It applies to other things too: soccer, figure skating, law school, or pre-med. I know I hated my parents big time for denying me the chance to go sledding on a rare snowfall in Vancouver; for denying me a night at “Circuit Circus” to play Ms. Pac Man with my friends; the chance to see films like “Sixteen Candles” on the weekend. Also, if a birthday party, Halloween, or anything fun conflicted with my piano or theory lessons, too bad – music came first, end of discussion. Don’t argue, or you don’t get any dessert. At the time I thought it was pure hell and I was pretty resentful and pulled out the “YOU ALWAYS FAVOURED JACKIE” line a few times because it always seemed fitting to do so (my older brother who won every damn piano competition he ever entered).
Looking back on it, I can’t get OVER the sheer dedication and endless support my parents gave me. All that nagging to practice paid off. I do understand what it means to commit to something and mean it. I understand that to do well, you have to work your tail off – and it helps if you pick something you do love despite the dreaded practice invovled. All those years of practicing means I can now apply my music skills elsewhere – I work with musicians for a living. I write about them, style them for photo shoots, and understand where they’re coming from. I also teach piano kids on the side – one could say it’s payback – and I’m startled to discover I’m turning into my mother, and at times, my own traumatically frightening piano teacher. My musical life has come full circle.
2 Pianos 4 Hands sums up the lives of anyone who either studied a musical instrument or had a dream that didn’t quite work out.
Here's how to win two tickets to 2P4H on Friday, November 4:
Leave a comment after this post stating what you hated most about practicing in 100 words or less. [CF: once you've left a comment, email me at collaborativepiano at gmail dot com with the same comment so Liz and I will know how to contact you. Good luck everyone!] The deadline will be at 5pm on Tuesday, November 1, with winners announced the following day.
2 Pianos 4 Hands will run at the Panasonic Theatre in Toronto from October 30 – November 20. Visit www.mirvish.com or call TICKETKING at 416 872 1212.
Update: Congratulations to tjhewer, who has just won 2 tickets to Friday's performance!