Enjoyment – The Kernel of Talent and Persuasive Performing

Enjoyment – The Kernel of Talent and Persuasive Performing


Follow your bliss

and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.

~ Joseph Campbell

It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.

– Einstein


In Korean, the adverb chal { 잘 } has three distinct but intertwining meanings.  The first is well, as in, He plays the piano well.  The second is often, as in, He plays the piano often.  The third is enjoy or like, as in, He enjoys playing the piano.  The correlation is easy to see:  If you enjoy something, you will do it often.  If you do it often, you will do it well.  And if you do well, you will enjoy it even more, and so on, feeding the growth of a virtuous circle.

I’ve always felt that talent, even genius and near-genius, is rooted in a combination of enjoyment and curiosity.  If you cultivate enjoyment in your playing and never cease to be curious about what more there is to learn, there’s virtually no limit to how much you will continue to grow.  Go beyond yourself!

As a performer, the energy you give out is multi-layered.  Many of the layers are buried deep inside of you, containing the endless hours of preparation.  They transmit to the listener as residual energy.  But the audience perceives your present state of mind and emotional generosity on a much more acute, direct level.

They need to feel that you’re enjoying what you’re doing, that you’re giving them something present and honest.  Non-musicians, sometimes even more than musicians, pick up on the quality of the energy you send out in the moment of performance, and they respond more directly to it.  A cold, unenjoyed performance on the part of the performer can occasionally be appreciated for its artistic excellence by an initiated listener, but most people just pick up on the negative energy.  In performance, if you’re nervous, they’ll be uncomfortable.  If you accuse yourself of missing a note carelessly, they’ll take you to task for it.  On the other hand, if you forgive yourself for flubbing and keep on enjoying the music, they will too. 

A six-year-old aspiring virtuoso I once taught asked me, perplexed, But how do they KNOW whether I‘m enjoying myself or not?  And I answered him as directly as I could:  They just do.


Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass…

It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.

~ Vivian Greene