And the end of all exploring will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.
- T. S. Eliot
If you’ve made it this far, you’ve walked the journey that I’ve walked hundreds of times throughout my life, and continue to walk. If you’re like me, you may often have had the sensation of walking sideways or even backwards more often than forward. But remember that the pathway to mastery is never a straight line but a spiraling, meandering one, lined with a forest of tall pines, such that you rarely catch a glimpse of the peak you’re aiming for.
You may have many more questions now than you did when you began. If so, you’re growing and making progress. But I also suspect that you’ve gained greater vision and knowledge of the path you’re on, and I’m sure that your fingers testify to the orchestral knowledge you’ve gained and to your increased command of phrasing and the flow of energy.
Bulow, the first time he presented Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Berlin, had rehearsed his orchestra relentlessly, demanding that everyone memorize his part. He commanded the ushers to lock the doors once the performance began so that no one could enter or leave in the middle. After the applause died following the final movement’s “Ode to Joy”, he lifted his baton and started over, from the very beginning. He knew that the audience would appreciate it more the second time through, once they’d gained familiarity with it.
While this is not Beethoven’s Ninth nor I Bulow, I wish I could now lock the doors. Instead, I simply invite you to stay and turn back to the Preface at the very beginning and work through this manual again from cover to cover. The second time through you’ll learn things that your mind was not ready to fully understand the first. The third time through, if you’re the persevering type (!), certain concepts will have become long self-evident, as if you’d always possessed them. My hope is that, over the years, you might pull it down off your piano-side bookshelf often and consult it.
I am on the same journey, and this is my guide as well.
When an ordinary man attains knowledge, he is a sage;
when a sage attains understanding, he is an ordinary man.
~ Zen Saying
~ End of Part IV ~
Four and fifty years
I’ve hung the sky with stars.
Now I leap through –
– Dogen (1200-1253)