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The Sound Of Learning

Updated: Jun 4, 2020

Listening to a 7-year-old learning piano is fascinating.

I'm sat in my office, a converted garage, at the front of the house and I can hear the sound of my 7-year-old daughter learning piano emanating from the other side of the house.

She's only been learning for a few weeks, teaching herself off an app on her iPad, and so she's far from playing concertos, she's not even close to playing anything resembling a full song yet, and still, the sound she makes is beautiful.

What I'm hearing though isn't necessarily music, what I can hear is learning.

She sits there for hours thumping out repetitive patterns and lessons over and over again. She makes hundreds of mistakes, and yet she is free enough to constantly go back and just start again. There is no reprimanding herself, no huffing, no puffing, no signs of frustration - just the innocent magic of sheer intrigue and curiosity.

I can hear the progress she makes as she repeats an exercise. And, what started out as slow, one-finger sounds becomes a succession of notes that start to flow together and form a melody. She perfects that exercise and then moves on to the next one, becoming the beginner once again and starting over making new mistakes. There's no tension, just unfettered, open learning. There is no ego, no sense of feeling stupid for making mistakes, and no comparison of herself to anyone else's standards or expectations. Just a 7-year-old kid taking one note at a time.

It's truly mesmerising and humbling to listen to.

As adults we stop learning with this freedom and start to judge and berate ourselves to the point where learning becomes virtually impossible, at the very least it becomes a chore and not a pleasure.

After she had finished, I went over to share my experience with her and tell her how proud of her I was for the work she was doing.

"How long was I doing it for daddy?" she asked.

"About an hour sweetheart," I replied.

"An hour? Wow, that's long, I thought it was about ten minutes," she said to herself as she wandered off upstairs to her bedroom.

Moments later I heard the sound of a big box of Lego being emptied out onto her carpet and figured that she would probably now disappear into a world of her own creative imagination, emerging an hour or so later and thinking she had only been gone for just ten minutes.

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