The Gift of Music Part 2

The worst and the best thing about childhood is that it ends. The transition into an adult with a job and control over my money was euphoric. By the age of twenty-six, I was married, making a living as an IT analyst, and furnishing my own home. When my husband bought a convertible, I asked myself, “Why shouldn’t I get what I always wanted?” I stepped into a music store and purchased a cherry wood digital piano.

Soon, I was taking lessons at the home of a piano teacher, Anna. Before my lesson, I’d wait on a couch with her teenage students. While those overscheduled kids bent over their algebra homework, I relaxed my mind and body as I listened to a child playing Moonlight Sonata. When it was my turn, I squinted at the sheet music and banged Kitty Cat is Sleeping. 

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“It is very hard for an adult to learn piano,” my teacher commiserated. “You lost all your natural ability.” Hearing that, I wanted to find Nina and smack her. My music teacher thought I once had a natural ability for music. Can’t lose what you never had! 

It was hard to learn piano as an adult. Not impossible, however. Especially for a champion at sitting. After a year and a half of lessons, Anna taught me to play a little known classical piece. When I mastered it, she invited me to perform in the recital at the library.

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Every detail of my recital edged itself into my mind. Sitting in front of a grand piano was jarring. I couldn’t find the middle C. My heart pumped so fast I got lightheaded. I knew that this instrument needed a strong touch, but when I began playing, the sound was too quiet. I hit the wrong key, but I kept playing, pretending the mistake never happened. And somewhere between those amateur mistakes, I was the happiest girl I’ve ever been.

When I finished, Anna hugged me. “That was amazing! You have performance talent,” she whispered into my ear. I was shaking from nerves and beaming as I listened to the rest of the concert next to my husband. Parents who came to watch their children smiled at me.

“Everyone was asking about you,” Anna told me at the next lesson. “They are asking how long you’ve been playing, what it’s like to learn as an adult.” Likely, I wasn’t the only one who had Nina to stop them from learning music. How many of those parents paid for piano lessons because they wanted to live vicariously through their child? Unlike them, I lived my dream.

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If this were a novel, it would finish with me playing for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra or opening my own music school for adults. Life is less showy and more unpredictable than fiction. Work and other priorities took over. I gave myself a break from lessons. Half a year later, I couldn’t play at all. My fingers forgot every melody they played. The piano stopped singing. And I was ok with that.

Music takes a great deal of dedication. So does writing. Writers hone their craft as musicians perfect their playing.  At this point in my life, writing fulfils me as I once hoped music would. Even better, I wrote the concert scene in Abigail's Song to mirror my own one and only recital. And I did live vicariously through my character in that scene.

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And then… I received another gift. Since early childhood, it was obvious that my daughter was gifted in music. Her nanny, her daycare teacher, her voice teacher gave me the same talk. She has the goods. You, Mama, must provide her with musical opportunities. Whether she wants them or not.  

To be continued…