How Bohemian Rhapsody has helped me understand kids

I am learning to play the piano. Thomas, my friend and trainer in Singapore, bought me a roll-up piano just before COVID started. Finally, I have stopped playing around and started to learn. I was scared to start even though I have always wanted to play.

I purchased the SIMPLY PIANO app and started. It was SO hard! I didn’t even know where middle C was, let alone the other notes!

As I practised, I observed myself closely. I felt great as I mastered a few notes and kept at it a few times each day. I was astonished when one of my students (a very talented musician) recognised Ode to Joy as he walked up towards my classroom for his lesson with me. I had nailed it.

I was on my way to becoming a pianist and I shared my prowess freely with and friends and boasted on Facebook.

And then I met Bohemian Rhapsody. I have been playing this now for what feels like months! I am thrown into the “sin-bin” and placed on PRACTICE MODE over and over and over! I took a day off and pretended to myself that I was very busy with my work.

Ha! That put me back by so many steps and I have had to discover more resilience and grit than I ever knew I had!

Poor Martin has had to listen to me playing this tune (badly) hundreds of times and now I am DETERMINED! I swear vilely and yell at the keyboard and blame the program but a little voice is nagging-“Keep going,” and so I do.

4 times a day! I am failing but now “failing better!”

I am just over halfway through the torture of learning this tune and hopefully will get onto the next bit before spring. Spending the whole of winter with Bohemian Rhapsody is not what I crave.

And yet- just occasionally, I am getting (almost) through the song and sometimes even get lovely words like “Awesome” or a nice green tick! I NEED the praise and encouragement and in no way would I let anyone hear me play so they could grin or give me sympathy.

All the way through this process I am acutely aware that THIS IS WHAT MY STUDENTS HAVE BEEN GOING EACH DAY!

With kids laughing at them, teachers trying to be encouraging and parents ready to scream.

I am feeling stupid. But I’m not! I am just very bad at learning the piano and will need to practise more and never miss another session.

I’m an adult. I can reason about this. Imagine how kids feel and how disheartened we would also be if we failed each day in front of our peers. How depressing might that be? Really, really get with that!

Yes- kids need to read, spell and do maths. There are many kids who go through hell with this process- they need all the support and encouragement they can get.

I recommend you all to challenge yourself somehow and learn to fail, fail, fail and fail better!

Resilience, growth mindset and EQ are not optional extras for kids. They need to be essentials.

I am now off to swear at my keyboard!


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