Make your kids practice piano, they may grow up to be mountain bikers

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Don’t think for a second that because I haven’t mentioned it, I’ve given up on single track mountain biking.  I’ve been a couple times since the first time with all the wrecks.  Practice makes perfect!

Which brought me to a bit of introspection during today’s ride.  I am a person who keeps at something until I get it right – if I like it, that is.  It struck me today that this probably is my parent’s fault for making me practice piano every day after school.

When I was just a little girl, my big dream was to play the piano someday, and play it well  – in front of people, specifically serving in the local church.  My parents went with that dream, purchased a used piano, and paid for piano lessons for 14 years.  I became the church pianist at age 12 (and kept going for the next ten years), went to college and majored in piano (culminating in a senior recital), and still serve in church. 

My parent’s rule was: practice piano every day when you get home from school.  Period.  Not only when you feel like it. If you have a cold – practice.  If you have a ton of homework – practice.  If you never learn how to fix dinner because your mother is always doing that while you’re practicing – practice.  Above all else, the piano was practiced.  A few years in, I decided to go on strike from practicing.  Guess what – there was a big altercation between myself and my parents (the united front), resulting in my dad walking me backwards to the piano bench, sitting me down, and declaring that I was going to practice. I decided that was never going to work and decided to retire from being on strike. 

And you know what?  It worked!  I am a product of my parent’s determination, and I thank them for that, and also for their monetary sacrifice – all of those piano lessons, dozens of Chopin, Bach, and Mozart pieces, and ultimately, a college education. 

So that brings me back to the subject at hand.  I am still “practicing”.  If I want to be good at a recipe, I practice.  Pie crusts and bread were the biggest challenge – but guess what, I even taught my girl’s homeschool home ec class how to make a pie crust!  I decided to try my hand at aerobics instruction a few years back.  I picked out music, made up exercises, printed out the moves in big letters, laid them on the floor in the front of the room and used them until I no longer needed them. Granted, there were a few missteps (and lots of times when I forgot even what my notes meant, resulting in a surprise move to everyone in the room, including me), but I learned – and thrived!

I shared these thoughts with Aimee (riding mentor) today.  After a great ride, she gave me praise for learning and gaining speed and confidence.  She left earlier than me, and suggested a trail we had just ridden.  I took the trail, but missed the turn-off and took a longer trail (I’m still learning to look up and read signs while navigating at a decent clip) and by the time I realized it, it was too late to turn back.  Remember that first long, hard trail I rode – the one I wrecked all the way through – the one with all the whoop-de-doos?  I haven’t been back on that one since the first day – on purpose.  I decided to suck it up and see what I was made of.  Surprisingly, this trail was not near as hard as I remembered!  There were a couple of really hard climbs that got my heart racing – I was panting like a maniac, but then the reward was the downward hills and whoop-de-doos!  I convinced myself to stop and take a couple of breaks, even though I was in some very isolated woods all by myself with lots of animals rustling and a bear sighting is not out of the question.  It was well worth it, and I came riding out of there victoriously!

The key to success – perseverance.  So the next time your kid says to you, “Mom, I don’t really wanna play this nice saxaphone anymore” (the one you put a down payment on so he could play in the band at school), or, “I just really don’t like playing the violin that much” after you’ve just invested a month’s salary and went to all the trouble of hiring a teacher (never mind the scheduling headaches), back little junior up and tell him, “Then you will never be a single track mountian biker!”

Hey, it’s worth a try, right? 

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