Music. It’s a word that as soon as you say it people know exactly what you are talking about. However, the idea of what Music actually is to people varies greatly. For me Music is so many things. Its part of who I am. Its something I attach to my fondest memories, its something that helps me remember special moments in my life. Music is something I love to share. Music is so many things to me. So much more than just a noise, or a melody or lyrics put to that melody.
When I was four years old I started piano lessons. Every week my Mom and I would pile into a family friends huge van and off we would go to Yamaha group lessons with a few kids that lived in our neighbourhood. These are the earliest memories I have of music being something that really would shape my life. I remember all the little songs that we played, especially Sayanora, the song that would be played and sung at the end of our lessons. I can still sing all the words to it, even though its been almost 34 years since I learned the song.
Piano lessons were always a struggle. I loved playing. I didn’t love the discipline involved when it came to learning. Practicing was something else. There were a lot of tears, a lot of screaming, a lot of temper tantrums. Finally by age 12 my Mom had enough and she gave me the choice to quit. I took the opportunity and said Sayanora to piano lessons.
Little did I know that I really had a love for piano that ran deep. A love for learning new songs. A love for the escape that sitting down and hammering out a tune gave me. 3 years later I asked my Mom to find me a teacher so I could start taking lessons again. And I did until I completed a decent level through the Royal Conservatory’s music program.
After highschool, piano fell by the wayside. Lessons ended as I moved on to University. Then when I finished Uni, I moved out of my parents house and I no longer had a piano to play. I vowed that one of the first things I would get when I bought my first house would be a piano. It took me another 5 1/2 years to fulfill that vow. I got married, lived in downtown TO in a tiny condo, got pregnant and moved to the burbs. We bought a house with a front room that I knew would be perfect for the piano I had been longing for. So a year after my oldest was born, we bought a piano. We bought a Heintzman baby grand. And oh it is grand. The problem though was I had no time to play my newest baby. I was busy with a toddler, and was on my way to having my second daughter. Once she was born the following spring, my ability to find time to even touch my piano was at pretty much zero.
While my kids were in their toddler years I would sit and play silly kids songs for them so they could dance around. I would try my best to play more sophisticated pieces, but inevitably someone would interrupt with a demand, or a tantrum or whatever else it is that toddlers do.
My kids are both in school now for at least a portion of every week day. So this means I finally have time to sit and tickle the old ivories if I feel like it. In December, after some procrastination I got the piano tuned. It sounds lovely. I still didn’t really bother with it. Then my youngest daughter asked me to play a very specific song for her. I had no idea how to as I am horrible at playing by ear. But it was the kick in the butt I needed. I went off to the music store and bought some sheet music. The song she requested was Skyfall. For some reason my four-year old knows all about James Bond and Adele and loves it (it also appears that music may play a similar role in her life as it has mine. She just loves anything musical and is very musically inclined, which makes me happy).
So for the last week I’ve gotten back at it. I’ve been practicing. My 38-year-old fingers sure as heck do not work as well as they used to. They don’t move fast enough, my muscle memory is total crap. I can’t sight read worth a darn. But I plug away at it. I think I have played the first two lines of the song about 700 times and it’s still not really up to my standards, but I will continue until its perfect and then I will move on to the next two. Maybe sometime in a few years I will have mastered the entire song :p. Even with all that it really does make me genuinely happy to sit in front of a keyboard, in front of a beautifully made instrument with wonderful tone. It makes me happy to make music again.
I did actually take the time to record those first two lines, as bad as they were but for some reason I cannot get them to upload. I’ll work on it and hopefully get back to include it, just so you can hear how awful old fingers that haven’t played much more than Itsy Bitsy Spider in 15 years sound.