21 Day Fix

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Music - Life's Soundtrack

Music Music Music

I got my new (to me) piano on Tuesday and I’m finding myself very out of practice.  I love being able to play music and I’m finding myself frustrated by how I’ve let my skills atrophy.  I’ve taken formal lessons on piano, organ, clarinet and guitar.  Music, in one form or another, has been a part of my life since I was 7 years old and my parents took me up to Mario’s Music Villa for lessons.  Back then I HATED IT.  Hated it so much that my teacher told my parents they were wasting their money on trying to have me learn to play piano – he said I just wasn’t cut out for it.  What they were really doing was wasting their money having him try to teach me how to play.  What I really needed was the right teacher.  Joe was the right teacher for my brother Marcus – not so for me. 

Helen, on the other hand was the BEST piano teacher I could ever imagine having.  I learned so much from her, not just how to play notes, but how to play them with feeling and emotion.  She was an older lady who had grand children who were older than me and she had been a professional pianist downtown during live radio shows, in the days before TV killed radio dramas.  She understood music and could improvise like nobody’s business – she was amazing and I wanted to play like her.  She taught me basics and fundamentals and when I got better she let me choose the music I wanted to play – always pushing me to play harder and harder pieces.  She always had confidence in me and taught me to have confidence in myself on the piano.  She ignited my passion for playing music and my love of losing myself on those 88 keys.

I want my kids to have that.  I want them to have a love and passion for music and to be able to sit down and make music themselves. 

My oldest started lessons at 7 years old when we lived in Hawaii and she took lessons for about a year and a half until we moved back to Ohio and I had a hard time finding a teacher and the money to pay for one.  A little over 2 years ago she took up the alto saxophone at school and has been a part of the school band for over a year now.  She plays very well (especially when she practices) and recently moved up to a tenor saxophone at the request of her teacher and the band director.  She is the only tenor sax in the band and I’m very proud of her.  But the piano calls – especially since it is now in the house.  She wants to resume lessons as do my younger daughters.  At least this week – everyone wants piano lessons.

When I was 16 years old my teacher was attempting to lower the number of students she was working with and sat down with my Mother and I and discussed having me take on some of her students and become their teacher.  I was flabbergasted and honored at the same time.  ME – teaching piano?  Take that Joe at Mario’s!  I had the skills and knowledge and took on 2 of her students.  She helped me a bit on how to work with the kids and how to talk to them and how to teach them – kind of like an apprenticeship.  But, enter the fact that I was a 16 year old teenage girl with “things to do” and “places to go” and friends to hang out with and I gave up on teaching those kids – they went back to Helen and I hope they stuck with piano – it is a great instrument and they had a great teacher.  A learning experience for all of us.

I now find myself going back to those days with Helen and her confidence in my abilities and belief that I can also teach this instrument.  Remembering the things she taught me about teaching the piano and not just playing it.  So, I am now sitting down and creating lesson plans and music work sheets for my own kids and choosing, at least at this point, to use them as my test subjects in order to get back into teaching this great musical instrument.  There is just something so satisfying about watching my 6 year old get a look of complete joy on her face when she knows she is playing the song on the page exactly as it is written.  The same goes for the 12 year old and the 5 year old.  I don’t know how long they’ll want to do this and the novelty of having the new piano will wear off and the desire to practice and play will likely wane a bit but I will encourage them, I will help them, I will teach them and I hope that I will finally live up to Helen’s expectations.  And who knows, maybe get a few other students as well.

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