Settlement Student on How Piano Changed Their Life

Jennifer Weiner, author, NYTimes contributor, and student at Settlement Music School, recently published a column on how playing the piano—and being mediocre at it—has helped her to embrace failure. After publishing an essay collection that did not receive the critical reception she had hoped for, Weiner sought ways to grapple with disappointment. She found an instructor at Settlement and began practicing every day.

"My teacher was a genial man with white hair and an encyclopedic knowledge of all things musical, from the lives of composers to exactly how many versions of a Chopin nocturne were found in his desk after he died," Weiner writes. "After six months, I purchased a keyboard with all 88 keys. After nine months, I found a free piano on Craigslist. Now, a year into my second stint as a piano student, I can proudly announce that I am … still pretty terrible. Except playing the piano has accomplished what all that yoga and meditation never could. I can quiet my mind and focus entirely on something: not my breath, but the music."

Ultimately, she has found comfort in a task that she will never be great at—but loves nonetheless. "In the new year, I will embrace the joy of making music (loosely defined) only for myself. I will invite failure into my life and play without the expectation of being the best, or even mediocre, until failing isn’t a terrifying unknown but just another possibility, and one I can survive."

You can read the full article here.

Published: December 31, 2018