[Outlook] Practice makes magic
On the night of April 2, the Concert Hall at the Seoul Arts Center was full of people until late. As Evgeny Kissin, a pianist who has already become a legend at the age of 38, played more than 30 times of curtain calls and 10 times of encore numbers, the concert was over around at midnight.
Kissin’s playing on that night was absolutely stunning. It was hard to believe that it was a human who played the piano that night. It seems that a piano was the one and only important thing in his life and he played the piano like a man caresses a woman he loves. Throughout the concert, he hit the keys without his expressions changed. It was only after the show was over when his face showed a hint of a smile.
When he played Sergei Prokopiev’s Piano Sonata No. 8 in B-flat major, he looked like a philosopher who was seeking the truth. When he played the Chopin etudes, one could clearly see his outstanding competence. A pianist’s competence is revealed not when he plays difficult pieces that are rarely played. It is unveiled when he plays simple articles that anyone who plays the piano must have tried. We can realize that the same music can be played differently by a master pianist.
Kissin is often called a genius. At the age of two, he was already able to play the music that he only listened to. He is now reaching 40. During entire his life he has never relied on his prodigy or genius. Even when he is on tour, he always practices six to seven hours a day. His talent is firmly based on his strict practices. During the concert, he did not show any showmanship, as other musicians often do. He grabbed the audience for nearly four hours purely with his competence which he had achieved through practice. The power of practice made it possible to have a magic-like concert on that night.
Hank Aaron, the first African-American home run king, once said this; after spending many hours a day on practice until he was about to lose his consciousness he got a special power. He earned a power that other players did not have. For instance, he could see whether a pitcher would throw a ball in a curve or in a straight line even before he actually throws it. And the ball that was flying to him looked as big as a water melon.
In short, practice makes magic. The key to all the magic and miracles in the world is practice.
Choi Bae-dal is the real-life hero of the movie “Fighter in the Wind” and he founded the martial art, Kyokushin karate. When he was alive he said that only after practicing 1,000 days and then training 10,000 days more, one can expect to win. A victory is nothing but a result of constant practice and training.
Kim Yu-na practices all day long except when she sleeps. Thanks to such perseverant training, she has become the queen on the ice rink at the age of 19. The Korean golfer Choi Kyung-ju, or KJ Choi, practiced eight hours a day, or hit more than 4,000 balls a day. As a result of such hard practice, he has risen to the world’s top class.
Nicknamed “iron butterfly” of the Stuttgart Ballet Company, the ballerina Kang Sue-jin still practices so hard that she has to throw out tens or toe shoes every season before she performs on a stage although she is 42 years old this year. She says that when one thinks one cannot practice more or that it is good enough, her or his life as an artist ends there.
This is applied not only to arts and sports fields. The universal genius Leonardo da Vinci said that the world was full of geniuses who turn to laziness and arrogance instead of hard working. They were once as sharp as razor blades but now they had lost their glow and sharpness. They would have to live as a chunk of iron that has no meaning or usage.
One who relies on talent he was born with and does not try harder becomes rusty in the end. But the one who practices constantly and steadily can become a sharp razor blade. Will I become a sharp blade or a rusty iron chunk? All of us have to make a choice.
The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Chung Jin-hong