I had one of my sweet piano students tell me yesterday that he is done with piano. "It is too hard," he said, "And I don't have time to practice anymore." (He is 8.)
I told him that I remember what that is like. I hated to practice too. I used to sit at the keys and cry because I was sick of practicing, it was too hard, there were other things I want to do instead, cartoons were on, none of my friends had to practice as much as I did, etc. etc.
But I didn't know how to explain to him the joy I felt after my first Concerto festival - where almost a year of dedication led me to 40 memorized pages, and such pride in finishing it, that when my mom took me to Sonic afterwards to celebrate, it was the best slush I have ever had. I didn't know how to tell him that practicing for duet festivals with Jessica were some of the funniest times ever, and made us closer than ever.
I couldn't explain to him the tears that rolled down my face when I played and sang for Kevin, "I Wanna Get Married" because I practiced that song for years, knowing I would play it for my future husband and now I had a future husband and the words from the song made sense because I had been practicing it for him, for that moment all those years.
I didn't know how to explain to him the pride of seeing one of my beginners play in their first recital, their smiles beaming not from their performance, but from their tears and frustration getting to that point. I didn't know how to tell him that Row Your Boat can sound like Mozart to my ears, or that I bear my testimony through music, or that it has defined so much of who I am, and who I want to be, and what I want my children to learn.
I didn't know how to tell him that the best things are hard.
(But that they are always worth it.)