#17126 Reply

Dianne Adkins

As a teacher, and having been a pro orchestral player, I have a pretty strong opinion on playing songs you don’t like. First of all, if you are self taught, and older beginner, you make your own path, so in that situation, I don’t see any reason why you would be selecting any pieces you hate to play.

If a teacher gives you an assignment, on the other hand, you must do it. There’s a reason for it. It is meant to teach you something. As the student, you must submit yourself to the instruction and guidance of the teacher. The more serious you are about this, the more you’ll get out of the experience. It’s your job to figure out what you’re learning and keep a good attitude about it. In college, I was assigned etudes that I sometimes didn’t like, but usually that was because they were not easy, and I had to really work hard to play them well and I was just being lazy. My teacher pushed me on one etude at one point, because I expressed a dislike for an etude, but I had not put in the work and couldn’t play it either. So he calmly brought me into his studio, closed the door behind him, set the metronome, and ordered me to begin playing. The message was, you don’t like this piece, and want to move to something else? Show me you’ve mastered it, and we’ll move ahead. There were tears in that lesson and eventually, hugs. But 40 years later, I have not forgotten the deeper meaning.

As a musician, (particularly professionals) it is not ours to decide if we like a piece of music and opt out of learning. If you composed a piece, you can hate it then. You can decide to throw it away. You don’t get to ‘dislike’ someone else’s creation if you are given a task of learning it. As a musician your job is to bring life to the gift of the written page. You carry a message through history from the composer, sometimes someone who died hundreds of years ago. You give your heart to learning the message and passing it to the listener as precisely as you can. In this way you bring honor to the music and understand it is not about you. It is the piece you hate that you should most diligently study, because it will surely make you a more disciplined and versatile player.