It's partly that I don't have time to play - modelling admin takes up practically every spare minute that I'm not shooting. It's also partly because I used to be quite good and every time I play something these days, I'm just reminded of how I let my ability go. People say playing the piano is like riding a bike; you never forget - but they are missing something really important!
I haven't forgotten how to play and I don't think I ever would. I have just lost my ability to play all my old pieces to a high standard. I am frustrated when I play stuff I used to play really well.. not so well! My fingers know all the right notes to press, know all the right rhythms, dynamics and note speeds, I can even still hear a piece of unknown music in my head by reading the score, (it's like reading another language) but it's like my fingers won't function. It's just lack of practice - they no longer have even strength and are not so flexible. I suppose it's similar to when you get older, your brain and your physical body deteriorate at different speeds - you know exactly how something should be done but you just can't physically do it.
I probably sound really bitter about giving it up, but I'm really not. I'm bitter that I was rushed into it so young by over-forceful guardians, my mother and maternal grandmother. I'm not going to deny I enjoyed playing the piano because I did immensely and I was mega excited each time I passed another grade - I thought music was going to be my chosen career without a doubt. But now I'm older, the picture is clear and had I been left to accomplish my achievements in my own time, the way I wanted to, I honestly think I'd feel more positively about my musical past now.
Instead, I was used as a trophy - in public, it was "look at my wonderful granddaughter, she has Grade 8 piano and she's only [ ]" but back at home, the insults and put-downs were flying - "you're mad, you've got Schizophrenia, you'll end up in an asslyum, you'll never get anywhere, you're useless, pathetic, just like your father" etc. As it happens, I'm not mad(!) and my father is a wonderful man, who enabled me (when we met again when I was 18) to live a life completely contrary to the one I grew up with. I didn't realise it was my grandmother who was the bitter one all along, which is why I really don't want to feel that way about anything, especially not music.
I wish my mother & grandmother had encouraged me to take my time instead of being encouraged as a kid to be the 'youngest & best pianist in the school.' By the time I had an audition for the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, I'd already been gone from their house a year; I was 18 and my heart was no longer in it. I hated that none of their encouragement had been for my welfare or future - only for their family status.
I thought I'd been lucky to get a job as a pianist in Portsmouth Guildhall - sounds very grand - but really not. The Broadwood & Sons needed tuning every couple of weeks and no-one in the company had the funds for that sort of 'luxury.' No-one listened, no-one knew any of the music I played, so I soon got bored.
I could of course stop having a whinge, get off my backside and take it up again. I can't for many reasons, some of which I stated in my opening lines. I sometimes wonder how far I'd have to take myself back to start again because I certainly couldn't pick up from where I left things!
However, I'm generally not having a whinge. Maybe we're all living millions of parallel lives, but I'm glad of where I am today. To think of what I have today that might not have been is just awful, so I consider myself very lucky. I never made a conscious decision to give up the piano, it just sort of happened and I lost the magic when I realised I wasn't doing it purely because I wanted to, but someone else wanted me to. Realising that is more of a shock than you'd expect. When I play now, a little of that magic comes back and I feel sad, and I guess I'll never know how I truly feel about it - it's been a whole decade of confusion and a whole twenty years since I first started playing.
I always vowed I'd do what I want when I left mum & nan; I wasn't prepared to let their emotional abuse affect me long-term, but it was a lot harder than I'd ever imagined. I'm in a job I totally adore and in a place I never ever thought I'd be.. (model.. wife?) and that's perfect enough for me.
People still often say to me that my talents have gone to waste and that it's such a shame, but they don't stop to think that their words hurt a bit, that sometimes I actually feel the same and that I'm trying to re-record over all those old messages that were drummed into me as a kid.
Some people find it difficult to understand that just because you are/were good at something, it doesn't mean you have to use it. Being a hypocrite, I'd be the first person to encourage someone else's talents, whatever they may be - I suppose it is natural to have that reaction - but to everyone who has a story behind why they aren't choosing to succeed, I can honestly empathise.
And granny dear, I don't need to prove myself to anyone.