Last August, an ad in the local paper caught my eye: “Adult piano lessons: It’s not too late, and you are good enough.”
I was charmed. I’ve wanted to learn how to play the piano since I was a kid, but had never made it happen. I figured that it was, actually, too late, and that instructors might not be interested in teaching a grown adult. But then, the ad cut through my doubts, so I reached out.
I’ve been taking lessons for more than six months now. Despite the fact that piano practice is near the bottom of my laundry list of obligations (family, work, volunteering, exercise, etc.), I’ve made lots of progress. I can now plunk out “Oh Susanna” or “When the Saints Go Marching In,” along with more modern hits like Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” (asking my instructor to teach me that one was only mildly embarrassing).
Hobbies are Self Care
Like most women, I have a non-stop to-do list. I’m constantly helping others, whether that’s my spouse, children, coworkers or friends. I’m always trying to make time for everything I know I “should” be doing, from meditation to journalist to exercise.
Among that, piano lessons are the only thing I do entirely for myself. It’s frivolous, but it’s so fun. I love the way that learning to read music and play the notes challenges my brain in a way that’s entirely unrelated to work. I adore sitting down at my piano with my music sheets and a glass of wine, spending an hour just playing around — something that’s missing all too often from our serious adult lives.
In the midst of coronavirus and social distancing, I’m putting formal lessons on hold. Despite that, it’s great to know that I have an activity that can provide stimulation and relaxation in those moments when I feel like I might not make it through social distancing.
Right now, most women are under tons of pressure. In addition to wondering what’s going to happen with this pandemic, we’re adjusting to homeschooling kids and working from home, while worrying about our financial futures. You might think that adding in a new hobby on top of all that sounds atrocious.
And yet, trying something new can feel luxurious, even with everything going on right now. Taking time to learn to draw, play an instrument or knit — really, doing anything that involves claiming time for yourself — can be bliss.
Best of all, right now there are more resources than ever for free learning online. Iconic artist Mo Willems is offering free lunchtime doodles. A violin teacher is offering free online lessons during social distancing. The Ivy League is offering more than 500 free classes online during the quarantine. So, why not give it try?
Of course, if the idea of learning a hobby at this time causes you stress, skip it. Anything that can minimize stress right now is important. But, in my experience, learning a new hobby can be the perfect indulgence for when you need a distraction from life, which we all do at the moment.