I was recently watching Daniel Barenboim play Beethoven on television and was reminded of the impact he had on me as a pianist just over 30 years ago. I had recently completed my music exams and heard the maestro play the piano at the RDS (at considerable expense for a student). However rather than being inspired to practice more I was left with the feeling of ‘what’s the point?’ – what he does and what I do are poles apart – and will remain poles apart.
Last Saturday I had the privilege of listening to Paudie Butler present his thoughts on coaching kids to a group of about 60 coaches in Kilmacud Crokes – my own GAA Club in Dublin. He told a great story about the day our great poet, Seamus Heaney, finally decided to go home and be a poet (or, in Irish, a ‘file’), in earnest.
This time I listened to someone with whom I could relate – because he admitted to making so many of the mistakes I have made myself. He spoke of the mistakes he felt he mad bringing up his own kids and how he wished what he now practiced with his grandchildren he had practiced with his children.
He laid down the challenge to each of us in the room: the privilege it is to work with children and the requirement that we coach in earnest. He also challenged us to get our thoughts right – the importance of being positive and looking forward to each session and each interaction. That if you do have this positive attitude you will enjoy it and everyone will benefit a great deal more.
Even more interesting for me – this time I found Barenboim less intimidating and more inspirational – I am enjoying trying some hours on the piano again. The gap has probably grown – given my lack of practice/ playing for 30 years, but my attitude and expectations are different.