The Daily Prompt asks: Do you play an instrument? Is there a musical instrument whose sound you find particularly pleasing? Tell us a story about your experience or relationship with an instrument of your choice.
At the age of nine I was forced, along with most of my friends, to take piano lessons. My mother had never been given the opportunity when she was a child, and felt she had missed out. Felt it was important to learn to read music and play an instrument. I was reminded on more than one occasion how fortunate I was to be able to take lessons, unlike herself. I certainly didn’t think so.
The teacher would come to my house once a week for a 1/2 hour lesson. He taught me how to read music, well how to read the notes at least, but I never really did understand 1/2 notes, 8th notes, when to hold, and for how long. Theory was a complete waste of time, reminding me of math, which my brain just cannot comprehend. Then there was the problem with all that classical music. This was the 1960’s, I wanted to be playing The Beatles, Bob Dylan, not Clementi’s Sonatina in C Major and Moon River. Finally my teacher gave in. He agreed to teach me using “pop” music. I continued with lessons for 2 years, at which point I had really had enough, wasn’t practicing, and was wasting his time, my time, and my parent’s money. I had learned how to read music, and had developed the ability to sight read quite well. When presented with a new piece of music I could usually sit down and play it right away. My teacher was a bit disappointed, as he felt I had a natural “talent” for playing and could have gone much further if only I would “apply” myself. But I was done.
When I was 13 a friend taught me how to play the guitar, and that was “my” instrument. I played and sang and just loved it. I played for friends, I played in local coffee houses, I played in a local bar one night a week, even though I was underage (16). The guitar was a great outlet for all my teenage angst, I could lose myself for hours playing and singing.
Fast forward from the 1960’s and 70’s to 2009, when my husband decided to take piano lessons. He learned to read music as an adult in his 40’s, and now in his 60’s takes an hour lesson every week. We have a baby grand piano in our living room. Reading music is like learning to ride a bicycle, you never forget. So even though I had not played for 20 years, I have started playing once again. I have grown to love classical music, and play everyday for at least a half an hour. I often think of my piano teacher, now no longer with us, but looking down on me and laughing and telling me he knew it all along. He knew that someday I would use the gift he gave me by teaching me how to read music, how to “feel” the music, even if I don’t know the first thing about theory and my fingering is all wrong. I can look at a piece and play it, and smile and let myself get lost in it. I silently thank him every time I sit down to play.
What I’m working on now….
Age 20, playing for friends….