What did you try and found out it’s not for you?
Making music. I’ve already written on here how I used to sing a lot when I was little, and I’m pretty sure I must have liked it, though sometimes I wonder whether my love for it evolved naturally, or was it coaxed a bit by my well-meaning family, once they found out that Bibiel can hold a tune and that music is something that a lot of blind people are good at. But in any case, I at least thought that I liked it, and I was singing all the time and liked to show off my abilities, and whenever someone would ask me what I wanted to be when I grow up, I would always say either a singer or a musician or both, or that I wanted to “do a career”. I also used to take part in song contests for children from a very early age, but I already wrote not so long ago about that bad case of Bibiel propaganda in a school for intellectually disabled children where I was the only non-intellectually disabled kid from outside that school who took part in that contest and won it like three or four times in a row. I still feel sad for those children lol, I mean their teachers or whoever organised that stuff must have been quite dumb to let one single non-intellectually disabled child who hadn’t even reached school age yet take part in that contest just so no one from the actual school could ever win. 😀 I suppose though that perhaps it was someone in my family, like my grand who is a very sociable person and knows lots of people in her town where that school was, who must have had a good relationship with someone in that school and convinced them to do that.
Then when I went to school, or preschool at first, to be exact, it was a very musical environment as well so they encouraged me to continue singing as well. I also got to sing during many more contests, for example in the religious song contest twice, or various kinds of celebrations and such either within the whole blind centre thing or a bit larger stuff.
Speaking of the religious song contests, when I was taking part in the first one, I was prepared for it by the headmistress of the music school that was part of the whole blind centre thing. I wasn’t a member of the music school then as few preschool-aged kids were, she just must have learnt somehow that I’m into singing and figured that it would be a good idea to include me in that contest although I remember being ever so slightly intimidated that most of the children taking part in it, including the ones who sang some bits of my song, , were quite a lot older than me, like teenagers. But it was still all very exciting. The headmistress was quite a particular person in some regards and I’d heard that many students didn’t really like her or find her a bit intimidating, but while I do remember she was quite demanding, she was also very nice to me and I actually liked her a lot, though for Bibiel back then it didn’t take much to like someone a lot. I remember how she showed me all kinds of instruments that were in the room where we were rehearsing and how to play them, and when I think about it now, it seemed like the whole preparation time must have really taken quite a few weeks. The contest finally came, Bibiel came third in it, and then suddenly it was over. I guess it was a bit confusing for my Bibiel brain, and I was wondering why I no longer have those singing lessons. So finally one day I asked one of the preschool staff, but she had no idea and told me to ask our eurhythmics teacher when she comes, because she worked in the music school as well so might know better. ANd so I did ask the eurhythmics teacher. She asked me what instrument I used to play in there, which made me go dumbstruck for a while, because, umm, we weren’t really playing anything, just singing. But the headmistress was playing piano so eventually I said piano. The eurhythmics teacher said that it’s someone else who teaches piano and mentioned that teacher’s name and said she’ll talk to her. And that’s how, quite accidentally, Bibielz ended up in music school before Bibielz even realised it. 😀
I had a really fun, chatty and engaging piano teacher and like talking to her about all kinds of things, but I quickly learned that playing piano isn’t going to be quite as easy as singing. I did like it in general, but slowly felt more and more discouraged, because to play really well and the way I wanted to play in my mind, I had to have more coordination than I actually had. I knew what I should do in theory, but in practice my hands didn’t always cooperate with my brain too well and so I was progressing very slowly.
Once I started actual school, I continued learning piano and a lot of the other kids from my class and boarding school group were also in music school by then, I also sang more or less regularly, including occasionally psalms in church and stuff like that. Together with my other school friends, I also started having various theoretical activities as part of music school, like ear training and other stuff that I don’t even know how it’s called in English. But we’d learn scores, listen to classical music etc. etc. and as far as I remember we all found it rather boring at that point.
As I continued to struggle quite a lot with the piano, and my brain started to change quite a lot, both in a natural way as in developing and a more pathological way as in depression, which I only got diagnosed with at age 10 but had been feeling like that since I was 8, which I wrote about in that post I linked above, gradually, I started losing all the fun that I had with music and singing, and instead started to find it quite stressful and overwhelming. Then when I was ten, I changed schools and went to an inclusive school closer to home, which I was really happy about in general because I always wanted to be able to go to school closer to home so that I could be home every single day rather than go there once a few weeks. While being home was certainly a very welcome change, my brains grew more and more neurotic and depressive, which wasn’t helped by the Achilles tendon surgery I had to had in the meantime and then was recovering for long weeks without having much to do in the meantime, and obviously boredom only worsens shit like that. My being in the inclusive school was also not all as great as we originally hoped. Unlike in the blind school, where everything is prepared for children’s education beforehand, here, my Mum had to cover the costs of my school books. Printing books in Braille isn’t a cheap business, and if you want to order a particular book to be printed, you have to pay a small fortune. So my Mum wasn’t even able to pay for all my school books, only the ones for math which we figured would be the most necessary because other subjects would be easier for me to learn than math, and also the math teacher insisted that I have exactly the same books as the whole class. It didn’t work like that anyway, because as soon as the printing company sent one volume (Braille books typically have several volumes because they’re naturally larger than normal print books and Braille letters take up more space), my class was already further ahead in their book and the volume I had didn’t cover that yet. 😀 Also my Mum was expected to help me with school work a lot, again particularly with math which my Mum has little idea about. If the teacher didn’t have time to explain something to me during class, I’d have to do it with Mum, and she’d have to help me with homework from all subjects as well, because she had the books in normal print and would read to me what I was supposed to do etc. That was difficult because Mum had baby Sofi to take care of, and those schooling sessions could take ages. I was also totally not used to it, as I used to do all my school work totally independently and be done with it in no time, so having to wait for Mum to help me out was insanely frustrating. So after the second year of my stay at that school, even I could see that, academically, it would be a lot better for me if I went back to the blind school, and Mum convinced me to make that move, telling me that she’ll make my biggest dream come true in return, which at the time was meeting the Polish writer Małgorzata Musierowicz, and she did eventually make my dream come true. However, in the end she didn’t even have to use that bribe, because during holidays after that second school year, we got involved in a huge shit thanks to that inclusive school, which I wrote about here, and after that there was no way I could imagine seeing those people again.
But, going back to the actual topic of this post, during my whole stay at the inclusive school, I didn’t really sing all that much anymore. In fact not at all. And I didn’t really miss it one bit. On the contrary, when I thought about going back to the blind school, and doing all that music stuff all over again, it made me feel a bit sick. My Mum strongly encouraged me to take up the piano again though. All because, years earlier, I told her how I once imagined being a mummy of a huge family and how it would be neat if I could play the piano for all my children, which was an imagining I had based on a book I was reading at the time and the main character being like that. 😀 My Mum didn’t quite realise yet that I tend to have ALL kinds of daydreams, and the mere fact that I have daydreamed about something, doesn’t have to mean that I seriously want to do it in real life. And I didn’t realise yet that sometimes it’s better to keep your daydreams to yourself, or else there’s a risk that people might take you seriously. 😀 That’s, after all, a huge pro of daydreams, that you can switch between them whenever you want and don’t have to commit to one. When I imagine something, it definitely isn’t always something that I’d like experiencing for real, it’s just fun to imagine it for a while. So anyway, whenever I’d say that I want to quit the piano, she’d remind me of that daydream and said that I’d later regret my decision. The school people of course also encouraged me to take it up again.
This time round, my previous piano teacher was on maternity leave I believe, so I was assigned a different one – an older, very serious lady who had the patience of a saint, and as she once admitted, she graded me based on my good intentions, which I thought both very amusing and very kind of her, although I don’t think any good intentions for playing the piano were left in me by that point, so I guess I totally didn’t deserve the good grades I got Fromm her. 😀 Also as a way of compromise between me vs the school people and Mum, I wasn’t in music school anymore, but instead in something that would literally translate to musical fire or musical hearth from Polish, I don’t know what it’s called in English or if it’s called at all, anyway it was a sort of less demanding alternative to music school, where you could learn to play instrument but didn’t have to take so many exams or do theory and it was a lot less serious. I was very adamant though that I wouldn’t do singing anymore. And, thankfully, I didn’t even have to fight too much about it, because I think people realised that it’s no longer that Bibiel who liked singing so much, and I was very glad to be free at least of that. I did occasionally sing a psalm in church if they had to find someone quickly and no one else could do that, but that was it. And like I’ve already mentioned, some people seemed really disconsolate that I didn’t sing anymore, wording it sometimes in such a way that you could have thought I was my singing, and once I didn’t sing, I wasn’t really at all, or so it felt being on the receiving end of such comments. 😀
Eventually, I was able to break free from the piano as well. It turned out that I may need another feet surgery, and in order to try and prevent it from being a necessity, I had to have a lot of feet exercises and rehabilitation. So in order for that to fit into my schedule, I was more than happy to ditch the piano out of it. Theoretically, if I really wanted and was really motivated to do both, I’m sure I could, even if my schedule would be a bit packed, but I was elated to finally get rid of it out of my life, and this time round, my Mum didn’t oppose, as she understood that I didn’t want the surgery and neither did she. The piano was hardly a priority anymore.
Then later on, during some holidays, my friend and roommate was going to visit me at home. She played guitar, and I really wanted her to be able to play for me a bit, but I guess she either didn’t have her own guitar or couldn’t take it with her or something, don’t remember what exactly, in any case my Mum and me wanted to get hold of some guitar that she could play. And my Godmother had a friend who played the guitar, so we asked my Godmother to ask her friend if she could lend it to us for a few days, and she did. While my friend stayed with us, my Mum got an excellent idea that Bibiel could learn to play the guitar as well, and that this friend of my Godmother’s could teach me. The idea itself was not unappealing to me, but I was quite sure that if I wasn’t able to learn the piano very well for all those years, then the guitar would be even more difficult. You really have to be quite dextrous to play it, even if it’s not a super difficult instrument overall. But Mum was saying that, oh well, if I won’t like it or will find it too difficult, I won’t have to keep going, and I guess a part of me did indeed want to try in case it could work out. So she visited me every week during the remainder of the holidays and taught me some really basic things. It was very interesting, but again, practically, my brain-hand coordination or lack thereof made it very difficult and even when I thought that I have learned some chords or technique with her, when I tried to practice it by myself, I didn’t know how, or rather, I did know perfectly well on a cognitive level, but not on a manual level, if that even makes sense.
So, after the summer was over, my guitar playing was over too, and now I don’t even remember anything of that at all.
From my current perspective, even though all those years of various forms of musical education were mostly quite difficult for me, I am now grateful for that in a way. Because while I haven’t been making any music in any way more serious than singing Misha to sleep or playing a water bottle ever since quitting the guitar and I have no desire to do more (well theoretically I think I’d really like to be able to play the Celtic harp but I know that it’s either totally not doable for me, or even if it is, it would require a lot more effort than I’d be actually, seriously willing to put into something like that), I wouldn’t be able to get as much out of listening music as I do. I definitely think that my role is that of a listener rather than performer, but to be a good listener I think it’s also a good idea to be able to have a basic idea about performing, so that you can judge it more fairly. My understanding of music is definitely not as good as that of people who have actually graduated from music school or even can play an instrument well, I don’t have absolute pitch or anything like that, but still I think the many experiences of performing music and learning about it that I had make me a bit more of an attentive and analytical listener than people who have no such experiences at all. Also I think given that so many people can sing better or worse, and can be easily trained to sing even better than they do, it’s a good idea to give every child at least a taste of what it’s like to sing or play an instrument, ‘cause otherwise they’ll just have no idea if they like it or if they might actually be good at it.
People in my extended family still ask me on a regular basis if I still sing like I used to, or why I don’t anymore, even if they asked me precisely the same thing when we saw each other previously, and I usually tell people that I now do languages instead, which are kind of like a different form of music. Because I do think they are. So, who knows, if I didn’t have that early music education, maybe I wouldn’t take up languages either? I’m very curious what I’d do with my life then, but I doubt it would be anything interesting. 😀
How about you? What’s not for you? 🙂