Piano, 32 Years Later
I took piano lessons from age 8-11, until my teacher moved away. His name was Dean, and I know now that he was a very accomplished musician, but I didn’t appreciate him at the time. As a pre-teen, I was super self-conscious and this got in the way of everything, as did my budding perfectionism.
Poor Dean. I did not practice regularly. When my left hand and right hand couldn’t work out their different assignments, I got frustrated and quit. My narrative has always been that I just don’t have it. But is that really true, or is it something that I can overcome with patience and practice?
I got back into playing after hearing my friend Kathe talk about how much pleasure beginning piano lessons are giving her. My right brain perked up and nudged me forward. It said, “We need this, Michelle.” Kathe and I bartered gardening work for her extra keyboard and some sheet music, with standards that I love like, “I Could Have Danced All Night.”
To my amazement, I can recognize notes! I can play simple songs! Dean’s teachings are coming back to me, supplemented by frequent trips into the Internet to look up musical terms and notation. I am finding my piano study this time around so much more pleasurable. I have largely recovered from perfectionism, so when I play wrong notes, or when I just can’t get up to tempo, I don’t beat myself up about it. Like my treasured friend Kathe does, I focus on the positives, like how beautiful certain chords sound, and how good it feels to get into a different part of my brain. I am finding it very relaxing.
I ordered my own sheet music, including that of Jesus Christ Superstar, my favorite musical. It is hella hard, so I have shelved it for later. The other two books are “Easy” versions of his compositions. One comes with a CD that you play along to. I put it on the for the first time yesterday and started giggling hysterically at how fast the songs moved. I mean, I am not ready for that jelly. But it’s ok.
My secret ambition is to get good enough to play the piano at our Unitarian fellowship for hymns. That is a long way off, and in truth, I don’t know if I will ever have right and left hand coordinated to that degree. It’s a dream, but not a goal. I want to play for pleasure, and to relax my anxious mind. And it works beautifully for that.