Two days ago I was lounging in the nearly empty cinema, legs propped up with popcorn in my hands, for five hours watching a livestream of the Cliburn International Piano competition. Six young talented finalists competed for a recording contract, PR coverage, and a world concert tour. There was so much at stake. Believe it or not, I was completely engaged the whole five hours. It was like the olympics of piano artistry. I’ve never listened to six piano concertos in a day, and on the way home I had a headache because the talent was too overwhelming. I didn’t want to listen to anything else that day because my ears had the ultimate experience. Overall, the mastery these finalists had over the piano was more than inspiring.
It’s a coincidence that I also bought a book called “Mastery”. I’m in the middle of reading it now, and it explains that 10,000 hours is required to master any art or profession. Throughout its examples of individuals such as Darwin’s developed skill through his passion for wildlife, I kept reflecting on the piano finalists and their musical mastery. They must have had 20,000+ hours of playing, and I had huge respect for their dedication to the art. To put this into perspective, the youngest pianist Daniel Hsu, 19, won third place. What am I even doing with my life?
Enough about mastery, let’s talk about art!
In an interview with Leonard Slatkin, the conductor for the Cliburn Competition (who, at age 71, conducted six consecutive piano concertos, props!), he mentioned that the arts are very much still alive, specifically classical music. Classical music isn’t dying, it has an eternal sound that will live on forever. But the main thing he mentioned is that we need art now more than ever. Slatkin said thriving Civilizations in the past had created more art, and vice versa, places which were suffering produced less art. Currently, the National Endowment for the Arts is in danger of having reduced funding, and clearly Slatkin was hinting at that in his interview. This issue came up again last night at the Tony’s in Kevin Kline’s acceptance speech. It’s true, we need art now more than ever.
Art is a therapy for whatever strife we’re going through. It creates beauty where there is ugliness. It is an outlet that we need to express out discontent, spread happiness. It is a primal human thing. I encourage people to make more art, because beauty elevates the souls of people who are exposed to it. My soul was definitely elevated those 5 hours listening to gifted 20 year olds playing their heart out at the piano.
So if you’re reading this, please continue to make more art, and share it!