When you choose to be a pianist or any instrumentalist for that matter, you slowly realise that to better your art, you need to give up or change a lot of things about yourself.
ONE You become cautious of any activity involving your hands
TWO You don’t do sports involving big balls
THREE You spend your time practising instead of going to birthday parties or camps
FOUR Your hands turn into gold and become the most precious thing to you
FIVE You become somewhat antisocial and untalkative from hours of sitting quietly at your instrument
When I was growing up, I WAS a quiet child but I was also a little tomboy at heart. I wasn’t into nail painting or shopping or even fashion when I think about it, and my whole family will tell you how atrocious my sense of style was. It was literally to the point where they would load bags of their own clothes into my wardrobe to stop me from wearing the same Pink Kathmandu Top and ¾ Length Army Pants to every gathering.
When I was young, I preferred to hang out with the boys and follow what they did. I loved the idea of cricket, reading comics (Tintin and Asterix, how I loved you then), and I had the biggest ambition to to get a 6 pack through athletics.
How drastically things have changed…
When I started S&S with Robyn, (after a great many years helped mold me into who I am today), I took some time to ponder about the things I do now that I didn’t dare to back then when piano was almost my everything. There was quite a list of things but after some thought, I realised I wanted to write about how being a pianist has stopped me from painting my nails or growing them out into long and beautiful rakes of seduction.
Stereotypically, this activity is one of the basic givens of a girl’s life but to hell with stereotypes because in my life, I can safely say that I have coloured them no more than 10 times. With an embarrassing amount of effort, I worked out that painting my nails took up a whopping 0.001% of my entire life. Round that to 0% hahaha! I really believe that this is quite a feat considering those that I babysit have different coloured nails almost every week…
But alas, I am still on break and with an entire chunk of the year dedicated to holidays, I wanted to experiment on them during this time, just to get my girl game on. You have to know that for me, every time I paint my nails, it feels like one of the ultimate betrayals of piano practice and learning music. I grew up with the mentality that everything besides piano (like cooking or TV) just took time away from piano and I was always paranoid about it. In those few times I have painted them, I learnt that it took so much time and effort that it wasn’t worth it as they would quickly chip from practise anyway. Also, I’m not sure if I’m the only one who feels this, but after coating my nails, my fingertips feel so weighed down and you really don’t want that when you’re trying to break records on Chopin Etudes.
You also learn that the state of your nails can roughly define your level. Musicians alike can start to identify your talent and musical ambition based on the look of your nails. This is a brief list of things I have picked up over the years about what to expect of a pianist by judging their nails.
How to Judge a Pianist List
- Long nails?
Does not practise enough. Can estimate the length of time of the ‘piano break’ with each millimetre of height. Allow 1mm for every 2 weeks
- Nails kept short? Quite respectable and usually a good student
- Nails that are too short?
Either less than 12 years of age or clearly new and inexperienced to the life of piano.. Don’t you know it hurts to play on short nails?
- Perfectly painted nails?
Too much time (and paint) on your hands. Not practising and not enough hours dedicated to your craft. SMACK
- Painted nails with chips on them?
Trying to enjoy the finer things in life but still making some time for practice
- Chipped nails?
A sign of vigorous practice or frustration
- Scratched nails?
Possibly learning a piece with glissandos
- Square nails?
OKAY… If the finger itself is also in a square shape, you have a musician that does A LOT of practice. Kudos to you. I look up to you.
Who agrees with this list?!? Seriously I was a 4 and 5 for so long… But since I’m still enjoying the holiday break, I decided to momentarily switch into the group of non-practising procrastinators. I didn’t have high expectations of how my nails would turn out but I am quite pleased with them! What do you think for a nail beginner?
Until next time!