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Has anyone else had the experience of a piece/pieces being so closely associated with a painful or intense experience that you were simply unable to practice or perform it? I've had this happen twice within the past year, and am seeking support from PW friends before moving on to professional help. I ultimately had to stop playing the Beethoven sonata and Chopin Nocturne I was working on around the time of my father's passing just over a year ago. Now I'm facing a similar problem following the surrender of our pets prior to moving out of the country. Am I broken, or has this happened to others??
I prepared a Chopin nocturne as a gift for my mother but I was not able to play it for her because she died unexpectedly. Whenever I play that piece, I weep. I really don't see a problem with this because I view it as healthy grieving and the releasing of strong feelings. I don't play it often, but playing it allows me to reach out to her when I am missing her the most. I don't know if there is a heaven, but if there is, she is surely listening. My Mom died 6 years ago and the piece still makes my eyes fill with tears but this doesn't stop me from playing it or missing her.
I think you should honor your feelings and allow yourself to grieve. If you are feeling overwhelmed by grief, I've heard there are grief support groups that can help you. The pain of loss never goes away, but it does become a little less sharp and more distant with time.
Absolutely. Deborah said it very well. I join her in expressing my sympathy for your losses.
At such times, my music has sometimes been a lifesaver. There would be pieces I'd play to console myself, sometimes pieces that I just found myself playing because they had the right feeling for the moment, sometimes because they just happened to be what I'd been playing. And then sometimes it would be hard for me to come back to them afterward, because of their being connected to that time.
During one of those times, I happened to have been preparing the piece (Chopin's Barcarolle) for an amateur competition. I didn't make it to the round where I would have played the piece but I did play it for a master class at the event. The leader (David Dubal) said, "This is an 8-minute piece. You're playing it like a funeral march and taking 13 minutes." He was more right than he knew. (He was exaggerating about the "13 minutes" but I'm sure that's what it felt like.)
Sometimes it has been something less serious, even silly, yet powerful in its own way. One year, I happened to be working on a Scarlatti sonata, and was practicing it while watching baseball on TV. The team I root for (the Yankees) had a very disappointing loss. I haven't stopped associating that piece with that loss, and have been averse to playing it since then, even though it's been 21 years. And in fact, even though it's mostly an upbeat kind of piece, that connection made it feel wistful and melancholy. To be sure, the piece does have those aspects, but normally they wouldn't have been so predominant for me.
Not much these days. I sometimes generate powerful associations with music but I doubt "emotion" is the right term to describe them, and I have certainly never been affected to the point of being unable to play. Must be something of a cold fish I suppose.
"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
Yes. When my mother died when I was 20, I was determined to play the Mozart a minor Sonata because it is said he wrote it because of his own mother's death. I learned it, but quite poorly because, well, my mother just died.
Now that my father died a few days ago and I am 20 years older, I plan to learn the Sonata again, polish it, and record the dang thing this time.
Instead of the emotion behind the determination keeping me from playing the piece, I am hoping the drive will inspire me to do a better job than I thought I ever possibly could.
It's happened to me, although not with a death yet.
As a composer I've composed for many different reasons and some can be really personal. The outlet of publishing the music is very healthy in my case (although a little commercially unviable, but whatever)...
You are not broken, there's nothing wrong with you.
Maybe the same piece, in a little while (months, years, whatever), will help you remember them and let their memories live through the music, so it might be all good.
When I was about 5, I sat on the piano bench with my mother as she played Chopin Prelude Op 10 4. I never forgot it.
When I started playing the piano (at age 57), I decided to learn the piece in memory of my mother. It took me a year to learn! But I did it. Today, when I play it, it always reminds me of my mother and her wonderful versatility at the piano. It's a cherished memory and I try to play it "for her."
Rather than losing a piece, I think one can turn that around and play the piece in memory of...
Last edited by AZ_Astro; 12/20/1602:07 PM.
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Mark, the association with that Scarlatti sonata with a lost Yankees game makes me laugh a little. I can easily see that piece accompanying a baseball blooper reel.
On a more serious note to the OP, yeah I think a lot of people have circumstantial emotional associations with a particular piece. I was working on a few pieces when a 7 year relationship fell apart and a good friend passed away somewhat unexpectedly. I can't hear Brahms's Op 79 1&2 or Chopin Op 45 without going right back where I was in 2004.
I had a teacher I really did not like for about a year. I recently revisited some of the rep I worked on with him and found myself going into a very dark place emotionally. I was surprised by how strong my reaction was. There was nothing overtly traumatic in my life at the time except maybe my late adolescence.
-------------------------- Bach WTC 1 #7 Brahms Op 76 #1, Op 118 #5 Debussy Suite Bergamasque