Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it.

Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it. – Tom Lehrer

How much practice are you willing to put in to become good at life?

How much practice are you willing to put in to become good at life?

What does that mean?
This quote is from a professor who is known for his ability to write songs, sing, and yes, play piano. And that is fitting, as we are most likely to use an example we understand.

The quote says that what you’ll get from life will depend on how you play it. For piano, to get the most out of it, you have to study, and you have to practice. You will have to play the fun music, as well as the basic skill drills. The fun, as well as the boring.

I don’t know about your life, but that sounds like my life. Lots of practice of things I know or are perfecting, studying to learn new things, and tons of really repetitive, boring things. Even things which are not pleasant have to be done, and done well.

If you are willing to do what it takes, repeat it as often as necessary, and keep working to get better, you’ll probably get a lot out of life. Perhaps not exactly what you want, but certainly more than if you hadn’t put in any effort.

Why is putting forth effort important?  
If you don’t put anything into life, what do you really expect to get out of it? And in keeping with the quote, if you don’t put much effort into learning to play piano, what do you expect to get out of it? Perhaps you can figure out how to play “chopsticks” or “the Knuckle Song” but not much more, right?

If you want to play Beethoven or Chopin, you’re going to need to study, and study hard. You’re going to need to practice, and practice hard. Even if your favorite pianist is called a keyboard player, like Rick Wakeman or Keith Emerson, you will still need to study and practice, right?

Effort can take someone farther than natural talent alone. Look at all the professional sports figures and their careers. Absent an injury, the ones who work the hardest quite often last longer than those with talent and no real work ethic. It’s the same in my life, and probably in yours as well.

Where can I apply this in my life?
Some people just float down life’s river. They go just where the currents take them. Yes, it’s a lifestyle choice, but it is a little to chaotic for my taste. They will get out of life what you might expect for how they are playing the the instrument of life.

They will probably have lots of friends and acquaintances all over the place. They will probably learn to like all sorts of what the rest of us might consider odd food. If they travel internationally, they might get a language out of it. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

The question is what are the long term goals of this person? If they are getting what they want out of life, then that’s fine. Just like some people get jazz piano and others don’t, some people want other things in life. For them, it’s time to change the tune.

Effort, and in this case practice, takes some effort and a substantial investment in time. If you keep working at it, you will eventually get better. But that doesn’t mean you’re done. Take changing a diaper. It doesn’t take many repetitions to get the basics. But most of us will get good at it long before the job is done.

And life is like that. Lots of things you don’t really like to do, but are necessary to get the most out of life. Ask any concert pianist how much they enjoy practicing fingering exercises or doing scale cycles. They probably don’t enjoy them, but probably still do them. Because that’s what effort is all about, that’s how they play piano, and life.

What are you putting into life, how are you playing it? What are your equivalent of scales or fingering exercises? What are your basic rhythm drills and other patterns? What are the things you do to get the most out of your skill set, and what are you doing to learn more?

How are you playing the instrument called life? How will you get better, or are you happy where you are presently? Note that I am not asking if you are content. Many stay where they are, not because they’re happy, but because they are content, or at least not sufficiently discontented to do something about it, right?

Think about what you can do to get a little more out of life. What about your work life? How about your relationships, do they still have life in them? How about the other aspects of your life, what effort do they need to get more out of them? More importantly, what are you willing to do?

You don’t have to turn you life upside-down to get more out of it. Often, it just takes a little more effort. Practice the fundamentals, and learn something new. Then practice some more. Yeah, it will take time, but unless you plan to win the lottery, the life you live will be largely proportional to your effort.

From: Twitter, @KStarry
confirmed at :
Photo by woodleywonderworks

Happy Birthday to Tom Lehrer, mathematician and musician, born 9 April 1928.


About philosiblog

I am a thinker, who is spending some time examining those short twitter quotes in greater detail on my blog.
This entry was posted in effort, growth, improve, knowledge, perseverance, work and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it.

  1. supriya says:

    Nice post and quite true to If I want to run i have to keep practicing for it.
    I like that professor as I also like to explain and understand thing with examples I also wrote something related piano. If you like then visit it 🙂

    !! Magical Piano !!

  2. Pingback: “Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it.” | Outrun Change

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