Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lessons Learned from Scott the Piano Guy

I was flipping through the channels recently and saw a PBS broadcast featuring Scott the Piano Guy. I don’t own or play a piano, but something told me this wasn’t an ordinary show, so I decided to watch it.

Scott begins his lessons by asking his studio audience, “Do any of you want to be a classic pianist?” No one raised a hand. When he asked, “Would any of you like to come home from work and play a favorite tune on the piano?” all hands reached high.

The Piano Guy has a unique method of teaching the piano, and believes anyone can learn to play in days or weeks, rather than years of lessons. He is the first to admit he is not the best piano player. He begins by demonstrating that it makes no difference which fingers you use to play the chords. The funny thing about the piano, it sounds the same regardless of which fingers you use.

Scott demonstrates how to find the mysterious (to those of us who do not play) middle C. He holds his hands out to touch both ends of the piano and falls forward onto the keys. “When I center myself at the piano,” he says, “my nose hits middle C.” Mystery solved.

Scott is entertaining, but he gave me much more to think about than playing the piano. First, when you tackle a problem, you need to decide on your goal. Do you want to spend years playing scales on the keyboard, or just play the darn thing? Do you want to be perfect, or will you cut yourself some slack?

Second, when you have a job to do, you can meticulously follow all the rules. Or, you can be like Scott the Piano Guy and do it your way and write new rules.

I think every caregiver can gain wisdom from Scott the Piano Guy. What is your caregiving goal? I will venture a guess that it is to take the best care you can of your loved one. You don’t care about being the world’s best caregiver, or plan on being a professional. Let’s face it, when you become a caregiver, you can’t spend years practicing before you know what you are doing. You learn to be quick, think on your feet and be creative.

As a caregiver, you can’t possibly know all the rules, much less follow them. You will find yourself making them up as you progress from day-to-day. Besides when your loved one has dementia, you find out that what worked yesterday may work today but not tomorrow.

Scott the Piano Guy is successful because he is innovative. I can’t think of a better attribute for successful caregivers. When people with dementia can no longer come to your world, you need to go to theirs.

If you learn to reassure your loved one and have a positive outlook, it helps both of you through a tough situation. You can be the best caregiver for your loved one without being the world’s best caregiver.

Be kind to yourself and have a little fun. Rather than argue over what the rules say must be done at a particular time, go for a walk and pick a few flowers. Remember, it’s not the finesse and technique that matters, it’s the results. If you make the best of each day and seek out moments of joy, everyone is happier.


Cindy said...

Isn't it funny, I had both a piano and organ around me growing up and could not patiently take lessons and learn to read music. Guess that is why skating suited me better. I wish now I had a piano to maybe find that musical side but I think I did better interpreting music by dancing or skating rather than sitting down and creating the music for myself. Following your own drum is always better than following everyone else.

Debbie said...

My husband says, "we may have to drop back and punt." When our well tuned plans don't work.

We need to not be so critical of ourselves and enjoy the special moments of each day.

Thanks for this wonderful post. It really makes me think...