tempo rubato

This past week I found my usual tempo stripped to a staccato by a rather nasty flu that seems to be doing the rounds. I got back to Berlin on Saturday night after two surreal but restful days in Naples and my usual delight at coming home was compounded by the fact that I had my second piano lesson scheduled for Sunday afternoon. My teacher, Yi-Li Chien, came to my home and we continued our journey of discovery acquainting my mind (and fingers) with Hey Jude by The Beatles and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade along the way.

One of the most beautiful challenges that learning to play the piano has presented me with so far is the balance between not only hitting the right note but always keeping the tempo in check. As I wrestled with 3 beats a bar – a rather stark departure from the 4 beats that seem to come so naturally to me – I could not help but think how this also applies to life: Being right brings with it a host of securities but a life well lived calls for the wisdom of a healthy and honouring tempo as well.

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