Something to Say?

Liszt, Chopin, Monet and Twain did...

It is important to recognise the difference between an artist and an Artist.  The former, the artist, will generally learn in the most traditional sense of the word, seeking methods, reading books, copying from others, making progress in a very step-by-step manner until some kind of imagined goal has been achieved... and then stay there, satisfied with the journey and not intent on going further.

The latter, the Artist, is already there in the mind, but curiously, that 'there' is never one in the same place, despite never being left.  How can this be?

First of all, there are two things to be understood:  where You are and who You are.  By finding answers to these questions, you will have a greater personal experience of the philosophical difference between what makes an artist, and what makes an Artist, being able to identify yourself with either one of them; hopefully the latter.

Let's take a look...

Consider the composer.  Many years of study and practice may have been accumulated, yet despite this, the abilities of the fingers in technique, the eyes in sight-reading and the memory in repertoire expansion, no Self is present to this artist.

Consider the painter.  Endless hours spent covered in paint, countless canvasses strewn across the floor, hundreds of books digested, months' worth of money spent on acrylics, oils and water colours,
many miles of walks seeking landscapes to capture.  We must pity this artist.

Consider the writer:  Paper cuts decorate the hands for all the pages turned, the bookshelf sagging in the middle for the sheer weight of literature yet to be devoured.  Pens fill a pot, ink cartridges litter the writing desk where scrunched up paper balls roll around in the breeze from an open window where a never-to-be tapped potential, so great and powerful, hides within the mind of this otherwise desperate artist.

Put another way, the above individuals are focusing so much on their external worlds that it simply never crosses their minds to take a step back and turn their attention inwards.  This is the defining factor in distinguishing an artist from an Artist.

Looking at the first of the two questions to which it is most beneficial to find an answer within, 'where You are', how do you understand this question?  Maybe it carries geographical connotations, maybe it refers to your current frame of mind?  Does it refer to current abilities?

No matter what it means for you, it is important to acknowledge the answer so that you become more aware of yourself as a pianist.  By being aware of yourself, your playing becomes more honest, purposeful and a truer reflection of who you really are.  Who would waste time painting an artificial reflection of the moon on the water when all they need do is realise they are the moon and the reflection exists without effort?

Understand that a location is not a destination, it is simply an awareness found only within the mind and is beyond words.  When beginning to play, you may set many destinations but each time they are achieved, you will have no time to feel excited or proud for you suddenly realise that you must set another destination.  If this is how you progress, you will always have one additional 'new' uphill struggle right after, never reaching any final destination and being mentally drained.  However, by removing these 'progress points' and simply remaining in one mental present moment, you are able to be as the moon reflected in water; always 'there' but never in one place.

This is the mind of an Artist.

'Who You are' is the second point of discussion and is, as the first, very important to discover.  How do you interpret this question?  When you sit at the piano, when you walk past a piano shop, when you hear another pianist playing in a way that pleases you... what goes on in your deepest soul?  Why do you want to play the piano, to compose, improvise or interpret Chopin music?

It would be fair to say that you made a conscious choice to play the piano, but is that so?  What drew you to it?  Why do you feel so connected to it?  By identifying yourself using myriad adjectives, you will help your conscious mind to better understand that which is expressing itself through you.

In other words, see yourself as a portal through which the universe is expressing itself.  When performing, observe yourself playing as the moon may observe its true reflection upon the water.

Understand that who you are dictates how you play.  This can be worded as, 'You play, what you think about'.  Is it not better to have a deeper understanding of this Self so that your destinationless journey is as effortless as possible?  If you do not know who you are, you will be seeking an artificial self; you will be painting the moon's reflection rather than realising you are the moon.

This is the mind of an Artist.

If you find the above difficult to digest, you are far from finding yourself and for this reason you must spend some days away from your instrument.  If you play for fun without any passion or genuine interest (which I believe to be impossible to do for extended periods of time for any individual), then disregard everything and continue on your jolly way, but if you wish to take piano seriously as a tool to express yourself, then you must understand that self-expression exists inherently and the better you understand You, the more honest a performer you may become.

So the article's question itself:  Something to Say?  Do you have something to say?  What is it?  Before using the piano as a tool to express yourself, discover yourself away from the piano and the experience will simply become one of the most joyous of your life.  Above all, do not be as the composer, painter or writer described at the beginning of this article, for they are merely artists.

I am reminded of an ancient proverb:  To climb the mountain, start at the top.

Such proverbs are not to be discussed in words but experienced internally, but I will say that I hope you are able to find a connection between it, and the content of this article... even if it takes a few weeks!

I leave you with this:  "No amount of words suffice for the one who has nothing to say".

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