Insight, Inspiration, Motivation

The Second Interest

“The great thing and the hard thing is to stick to things when you have outlived the first interest, and not yet got the second, which comes with a sort of mastery.” —Janet Erskine Stuart

I had never heard of this concept of the second interest until I came across this quote yesterday.  It came to me as a kind of blessing, an answer to a dilemma, a reassurance of sorts. I have taken piano lessons for two years and am progressing at a snail’s pace, simply due to the lack of time to practise. Lately, since I had ventured into the grade 3 lessons, I found the pieces tough to play, and the lack of practice more evident every time I’m in front of the teacher. I was beginning to feel quite discouraged, and had on occasion considered giving it up. I have outlived the first interest, and have certainly not mastered the instrument yet. No wonder!

Suddenly, a lot else became clear. The truth is that I had started these lessons at a time when I was finding it difficult to get my daughter to practise her lessons daily. I had not understood her reluctance to play everyday and every time I tried to remind her, I ended up having a mini war on my hands. Once I started taking lessons myself, she saw me struggle, and often joined me on the bench – first to help me, then she would push me away and just play her own piece. The strategy clearly worked! Now, I realize that her not wanting to play then was probably because she herself had got past the first interest. Now, my daughter is a good pianist and needs no encouragement or reminders to walk up to the piano and play.

I also realize that my younger child is at the same stage as I am. She is also beginning to dislike her practise sessions and often needs to be reminded. I can be a lot more compassionate with her and help her get through the next couple of years until she begins to  like it again.

Coming back to my dilemma, I guess I cannot possibly stop now, although it will certainly take more than a couple of years for me to master that giant.


January 29, 2011 - Posted by | Personal Journey, Self Improvement


  1. Raji, I am very much immersed in the concept of second interest, although I never heard it called that before. It has been my experience that one can get past the first interest stage and into the second interest stage if one breaks the task into small enough steps for example, many years ago, I was very impressed by the story of a woman who wanted to learn how to play the piano, but was too busy taking care of her house to allocate enough time for practice. It occurred to her one day, that she walked past the piano many times each day. She decided that each time she passed the piano she would practice on it for one minute. By the end of the year, she was getting pretty good. If she had not broken the task into manageable bits, she would never have attempted it. I have been able to accomplish a great deal by using that principle.

    I note you have a link to Jill Bolte Taylor. Her book about her recovery from her massive stroke is an interesting approach to second interests.


    Comment by Doug Hill | February 2, 2011 | Reply

    • Hi, Doug,
      It’s been a long time! Thanks so much for your comments.
      My piano is tucked away in a corner room – but maybe I will give that approach a try.
      I was very impressed with Jill Bolte Taylor’s talk on the TED website. I haven’t read much of her works, but certainly plan to do so in the future.
      Please do check back often and leave your comments. You know they are well appreciated.


      Comment by kindlelife | February 2, 2011 | Reply

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