One Measure At a Time.

“This is so hard.”, Hannah says quietly.

“I know”, I say. “You can do it. I’m right here.”

Her eyes glisten and her bottom lip begins to quiver. She takes an extra long, shaky breath and puts her hands back on the piano. She hesitates as her eyes scan the seemingly impossible piano piece in front of her. She makes sure she’s in the right position and makes another attempt at the song. The tears start trickling down her face one mistake after another but she bravely finishes and hangs her head, putting her hands in her lap. My heart breaks for her. I know exactly how she feels. I’ve been there many times, and so has just about every single one of my students over the last 13 years.

This is the one of the most critical moments in a students’ growth. They realize they cannot plow through this challenge as they have every other up to this point, and are faced with the decision to quit, or soldier on. As their teacher, and the one who assigned them the piece, I know that they can do it. It’ll be hard, it will take some time and they’ll have to learn a lot to even finish it, but it will make them a stronger musician. This is why I chose it for them.

I look at Hannah and say, “You’re ready for this. You can do it. Don’t worry about the whole piece, I’ll help you along the way. We’ll take it one measure at a time. ”

Measures are very small sections of music placed in order throughout an entire piece and are separated  by thin black lines so that the musicians can easily distinguish one from another. 

She looks at me, wipes away some tears and says, “Okay, I think I can do that.”

At that point she’s committed a tough battle, one that will challenge confidence in herself and trust in me  to teach her what she needs to know when she needs to know it, but if she perseveres she will win. The reward comes not only in the process, but when she plays her piece for others to hear. She’s not just playing a song, she presenting her victory.

Every time I walk through this process with a student I cannot help but correlate it with my life and the people in it.  How often do we look at the overwhelming picture and say “This is so hard.”? How many times do we make terrible mistakes that “ring” throughout our day reminding us how we’ve failed. After enough of those mistakes we just want to give up and quit attempting to “play the song” we’ve been given. We don’t feel ready, and we don’t feel equipped.

But we are.

We are equipped with the “Master Teacher” , the Holy Spirit at our side who is there to take it “one measure at a time” with us. We don’t have know how to play the entire piece, but trust that He will guide us and teach us in His perfect timing. He already knows how the song goes, and He believes that is us who can give it a voice. Imagine the day our hands come off the piano keys and we can say,  “That was a beautiful song, and we are better because of it.”

I’m determined to own my songs and in the end, present my victories. I hope to hear yours.


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