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Lessons to Live By: Hitting the Wrong Note

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by.

Today’s post is one that I originally didn’t want to share with you. “How come?” you may be wondering. Well, I did something a few weeks ago that I’m not really proud of. It was something I did when I was angry. Looking back on the situation—now that I’m a bit calmer—I realized that I made a bad choice in how I showed others I was upset.

Which leads me to my life lesson: when you do something wrong, be honest about the situation. If you’re to blame for things, own up to it.  And try not to take your feelings out on someone (or something) else.

So let me tell you what happened…


I’ve shared with you before that I play piano.

I may have also shared that my teacher, Ms. H., is pretty tough. She expects me to practice more than I actually do. Shhhh! 

Sometimes (OK most of the time), I’m not in the mood to practice piano. When I’m not in the mood, I’ll usually practice as quickly as I can to get it over with. While I would never say this to Ms. H., that means I sometimes skip a few steps in the name of finishing faster.

This week was one of those speedy practice weeks. Even though Ms. H. had been clear about my practice instructions, maybe—just maybe—I didn’t practice the way I know Ms. H. had wanted me to. Did I mention Ms. H. is very particular?

What I did do for most of the week was play the song several times as fast as I could. I didn’t always get the notes correct, but I got most of them right. I was hoping that would be good enough for Ms. H.  

Unfortunately for me, nothing gets by Ms. H., and I mean nothing. She can probably spot a speedy practice week a mile away.

Drill sergeant

When my lesson on Thursday rolled around, thanks to my speedy practice week, I wasn’t prepared. I was hoping Ms. H. wouldn’t notice.

Like I said before, Ms. H. and not noticing are two things that never go together.

As soon as I started my warm-up drills, Ms. H. stopped me.

“It sounds like you’re banging out the notes. Also, you aren’t counting the beat loudly enough.” She made me start the warm-up drills once more. A few seconds after I began the drills, Ms. H. stopped me again. She told me I was still doing the same thing wrong. Argh! Things were going from bad to worse.  

I could tell Ms. H. was annoyed with me. I was annoyed too, but for a different reason. Why couldn’t she just move on to the song-playing part of the lesson? In addition to my speedy practice week, I now needed a speedy lesson.

I would never say it out loud to Ms. H., but I felt like she was being tough on me for no good reason. OK, fine. She had a good reason. But couldn’t she tell that I’d had a speedy practice week

I think the answer was that she could tell I had speedy practice week and was totally unprepared. That was probably why Ms. H. kept pointing out what I was doing wrong. To be fair, for the lessons when I do something well, Ms. H. will heap on the praise. Today was not that day.

“Noodle, we’re wasting a lot of time. We’re going to have to leave the warm-ups and move on to the song you practiced. At least I hope you practiced.” Finally! I was going to play the song that I had sort of practiced.

I suddenly wished that I hadn’t had a speedy practice week. I wished that I had put in more of an effort.

Not so “note”worthy

I had barely played two measures when Ms. H. stopped me.

“Did you practice the song the way we’d discussed?” I knew I didn’t. I shook my head “yes” even though it wasn’t true. “Really?” Ms. H. pressed me.

“Umm, maybe not every day.” I thought that was a good way to politely admit that I hadn’t practiced. After having me start and stop the song several more times, Ms. H. concluded that I had not done the work. She called my mom over.

“Noodle, unfortunately, isn’t playing the song the way I know she can.“ I glanced over at my mom. 

My mother looked both annoyed and disappointed. Ms. H. then worked with me for the few minutes that were left in my lesson to help me through the tougher parts of the song. The same parts that I should’ve practiced on my own.

After the lesson was over, I headed straight to my room. I knew that wasn’t the end of things with my mom, though.

Bad day down the drain

A few minutes later, my mom knocked on the door. “Noodle, I know I don’t need to tell you that piano lessons cost money. But more importantly, it’s a waste of Ms. H.’s time and a waste of your time. Especially when you don’t do the work that’s asked of you. I know you had the time to practice. You just chose not to. This cannot happen again.”

I didn’t like what my mom had to say, even if what she was saying was true. My speedy practice week had failed me miserably.

I was frustrated and mad for being called out on my bad choice. But instead of focusing those feelings on my own actions, I directed them at Ms. H. and my mom. I stomped around, angry for the rest of the night. They should just give me a break!

When it was time to take a shower, I was still frustrated and mad. After I turned the shower on, for some reason, I decided to take some toilet paper and hold a piece under the water. Just to see what would happen. A couple of toilet paper pieces fell into the shower.

I figured that I’d clean up the toilet paper out later.  

But then I heard Jill shouting at me from outside the bathroom door. “Noodle, you’re taking too long.” Even though Jill took way longer than me, I hurried up to finish my shower.

I forgot all about the toilet paper.

Paper trail

“There’s something clogging the shower drain,” I heard Jill yell from the bathroom. I quickly jumped into bed. Maybe the toilet paper would dissolve in all the hot water?

Once again, my mom came into my room, less than happy.  

“Noodle, did you have anything to do with the toilet paper in the shower?”

“Um, I was doing a science experiment.” That was the quickest response I could come up with. Maybe my mother wouldn’t be upset if I made a mess in the name of science. “I meant to clean it up, but Jill rushed me.”

For the second time that day, I made a horribly wrong choice.

“I understand that you were frustrated about piano. But making a mess to show that you were unhappy is not an acceptable way to express your feelings. Not under any circumstances.

“Please go clean out the shower drain now.”

“But I just got into bed. I’ll do it tomorrow.” My mother didn’t say another word. Instead, she simply pointed towards my door. I sulked all the way to the bathroom. When I saw the clogged drain, I nearly gagged. It was disgusting and messy.

I won’t go into detail, but it was probably the grossest thing I’ve ever had to clean up. Just trust me on this.

I had really made a mess out of the whole practicing piano situation.

Music to my ears

You’ll be happy to know that the next week (and most weeks after that), I’ve gotten back on track with my piano practicing. I’ll save speedy practice weeks for when it’s track season (when speed is the goal).

To say that I learned an important lesson would be an understatement. While it’s totally OK to be mad or disappointed in yourself, it’s just as important to be honest if you’re partly (or totally) to blame. It’s hard to admit when you fall short of your own expectations, let alone others. But taking it out on people or things is never the right answer.

If you’re lucky, you will have a Ms. H. in your life who knows what you’re capable of and pushes you to succeed.

Although I don’t think I’ll ever love practicing piano, I will never get tired of a compliment for a job well done.  Though sometimes it’s feels good just knowing that I reached my own goals. An accomplishment is still an accomplishment, right?

Until next time, be your best you!

How do you deal with  situations that don’t turn out the way you wanted? Please share your stories with me in the comments section.

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