People are always taken aback when I share that I’m a pianist. I’m known to most as the farm kid that fixes computers (and now talks on the radio). Not that those three skill sets correlate well, but that’s mostly how I’m known. When I share that I’m a musician of what will be 12 years in January, people usually throw me a confused look.
It was the year of first grade. I had made a friend named Max. Max’s grandmother had taught him to play the piano. Well I wanted to learn the trade. Mom had arranged for me to meet Mrs. Snowden. I went in with an open mind. A half hour later, I walked out hooked.
I started on my two and a half octave Yamaha Keyboard (I remember hauling it home from my grandparents in Wooster, how they got it? Not a clue.) Mom will be the first to tell you it was like pulling hen’s teeth to get me to play that thing. While I loved it, I couldn’t sit still long enough to count to four and push the right keys in order. Something about playing the piano (at for least those I’ve talked to) makes you want to quit about middle school. I don’t know if that’s being “too cool” to play, the sudden lack of time, or just getting tired of it.
Thankfully, I stuck with it. Religiously, on Thursday nights we went to Piano. Mrs. Snowden became my friend Debbie. Lessons grew from a half hour, to an hour long at times (sorry mom.) Over the years Debbie and I learned a lot about each other. Debbie got several lessons in Agriculture, as she taught me the ways of the keys. We developed several sayings that I’m sure present and future piano students will hear time and time again (sorry guys).
My Freshman year of High School, we hauled (again from Wooster) Frank’s 88 key Yamaha Clavinova. Several people dislike the electronic piano. I, for one, was just thrilled to have enough keys to play all of the notes on the paper. I finally felt that I was able to make real music.
The cool thing about music is that everyone speaks it. While they may not understand the lyrics. The notes tell a story. Think for a second about John Williams’ score to the George Lucas Star Wars films. You know how the first notes harness your attention and you suddenly feel this moment of pride? Then the scene opens on the star destroyer and Vader’s March plays and you’re instantly scared to death? People across the world share those same emotions. And that’s what’s fascinating about music to me.
Yesterday, I had to say goodbye to one of my friends. But, I also had to say goodbye to my regular dose of music. It takes a village to raise a child, and Debbie is certainly a member of that village. Debbie and I share a lot of corny sayings and good memories. I often told her my weekly half hour lesson was my escape from the world. Amid the stresses of school, work, sick animals, and the like, I knew I had a half hour reserved for myself, a cheerful lady named Debbie, and music. She kept the music alive.
Debbie, thank you for teaching me one of the best life lessons. MUSIC ROCKS!
I encourage everyone reading this. Even if you have a remote interest, give it a try. She claims you’re never too old to learn it. You’ll be glad you did.