Have you ever had a talent that you let slide away? Perhaps you had a sport or hobby from childhood that you worked long and hard at, and then in one full swoop, you gave it up. Perhaps you spent so many years toiling over it that you finally had just had enough? You got to the point where you never wanted to participate in that activity again since it had caused you so much agony over the years?

That was how I was with piano. My mom made me practice over and over and over. Even though the practice made me quite proficient at playing difficult pieces, I still wasn’t a natural at reading music. I had to practice until I could learn the notes and finally I would have practiced it so many times that I naturally memorized it. By that time, I was driving my whole family crazy with the same song like The Entertainer, which drove my sister and brothers crazy for years! Any time I wanted to get under their skin, I’d play that song. Of course, it’d make my parents happy that I was playing after all of the money they spent on lessons, and the ultimate was that I got my siblings raging mad! So for then, playing piano was a perfect fit for me and of course the best part was annoying my siblings!

Through the years, I’ve poked around at the piano, but still have the same challenge of not really reading notes fluidly. But when I realized that playing piano is on my life time goals list, then I realized that I was going to have to start from ground zero, and start learning about it. So yesterday, I picked up a music book with Beethoven’s 5th symphony and started reading about him and about his music so I could start to understand how the music was inspired.

I set about to start reading after I had sent my son to school. That is when the house is quiet and the birds are outside singing and all is good with the world. That is the time of day that all good things are a possibility, and all of the stress from getting ready for school is gone, and I feel one with the world.

So, I sat down to read about Beethoven. What I read was really interesting! Beethoven started writing music at age 25. He wrote most of his music between the ages of 30 -45. He started going deaf at that time and by the time he was in his 40s he was completely deaf. Interestingly enough, the silence brought him his most masterful work, since he was unable to hear the critics and able to tune out any clutter in the world and concentrate completely on his music that existed in his head.

Beethoven was a master at repetition. It was almost as if he was drilling into the listener’s ear about his purpose in life was to bring this certain melody to the world and that he wanted you to GET IT. But using repetition can be monotonous to the listener and can just kill a piece. So what Beethoven did was he would use a variation of the line and alter the notes ever so slightly, still to make it sound like it was in unity with the other part of the music, but different enough to make it interesting. This was part of his brilliance and he sometimes worked for months and years to perfect each piece. Until he found the right note or combination of notes and made it perfect, it wasn’t complete.

I started thinking about repetition in our own lives and how we use it. We tell our kids the same things redundantly, “wash your hands, brush your teeth, say please and thank you.” And still, we must continue drilling it in because they always forget. We tell our spouses to take out the trash or please help with the chores and we share with our work associates to keep focused or to continue their own personal growth. But how many times do we start sounding like a broken record? Are people really listening to us? Are we becoming monotonous and deadly to our friends and family?

Next time you start hearing yourself yelling at your kids or find yourself repeating the same old line you’ve mumbled a thousand times, try some variety! Instead of telling your kids they’ll be punished, tell them they’ll be tickled! Or instead of leading a meeting the same way at the same time every week, perhaps throw in some humor or a story to change things up a bit. Show your friends and family that you care for them, the listener, by being willing to change your own tune, vary your voice and your message, just a bit, so the same theme is gotten across, just in a different way.

Looking to Beethoven for guidance on life might be a stretch, or it might be a lifesaver. Depending upon how you look at it.

Try it on for size. And just once, your audience may actually approve… and take action!