I have been reminiscing a bit about my piano lesson days thanks to attending a recital at our church and having about ten days worth of life application lessons in my morning devotions because the author was a concert pianist of sorts.
While she is able to pull all kinds of teachings from her years of disciplined practice and study, my recollections produce a gamut of emotions including slight trauma, minor pangs of guilt, heavy doses of longing and fits of giggles.
I would probably need counseling to sort it all out; but in a nutshell, I had a great desire to play the piano well but no disciplined drive to motivate me to do the work and no natural musical talent.
Or at least not the in the measure that my dad had.
My dad could play a song just by listening to it. He tuned pianos after he retired from the Air Force and he did the fine tuning by ear.
He understood rhythm and timing and it was more than he could stand when I didn’t.
And that would be where the minor trauma came in…but let’s skip that and move on to the guilt and fits of giggles.
Because back when I took piano, recitals were as rigorous as boot camp.
There was no carrying a book up with you or having your teacher lovingly sit beside you on the bench with her arm gently resting behind your back.
I grew up in the 60’s when piano lessons and teachers were as serious as the white patent leather shoes and ankle socks we wore with our spring frocks as we sat in hard-back chairs and waited our nervous turn to be called up to play.
I was probably in 5th or 6th grade the last year I took piano.
My recital piece was Beethoven’s Fur Elise. With two dots over the u…but sorry…not sure how to produce that either.
I still get kind of sweaty when I hear it played on the Pandora Classical station.
That spring I was more interested in playing outside and riding my bike than practicing, so my mom would set the timer and call me in every 30 minutes to play through my sheet music.
The idea was that retention would come from the repetition.
Good idea…but I would zip through it as fast as I could and then head back out to my friends.
Well…apparently all that discipline helped me get the first bit down because to this moment I can tell you it goes like…nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah naaaaaaaahhhhh nah-nah-nah-naaaaah nah-nah-nah….repeat a time or two and then…
I hit a blank.
Just like I did that fateful Sunday afternoon in the basement of the Lexington Avenue Baptist Church as my hands would hover over the keys, willing my mind to remember what came next.
Our teacher had told us if we forgot, we should just go back and start fresh.
In front of all those eyes, I started that piece over and over and over…until…well…I have blocked from my memory how it finally came to the place where I could get up and slink back to my seat.
However; I still vividly remember my mother’s reaction. In living color and surround sound.
Apparently I had given her the apex of the most embarrassing moments of her life, and considering she was older when she had me so that was pretty impressive.
She also informed me, in no uncertain terms as we exited the building, that my piano lesson days were F.I.N.I.S.H.E.D.
I was both completely mortified and strangely elated.
It was weird.
It still makes me sad that I couldn’t muster the discipline to play through that song mistake free on that Sunday afternoon.
And there is still a longing somewhere in me to be able to sit down at a piano and produce music.
But it also makes me laugh in the way that I was actually super relieved to be freed from the lessons and practice.
And she was wrong.
I did way more embarrassing things than that over the years.
I don’t really have a point to this today except maybe that I hope you can laugh at my eleven year old self.
We need to laugh and share our stories.
The real ones…the ones with no point except to share the parts of the journey that contributed to who we are today.
The parts where we were red-faced and goofy and that still make us stop and ponder just what happened there and how would we do it differently.
It’s what makes us human.
In a photoshopped world where we can carefully calculate our persona and create a phony sense of “this is the real me” even though it is only the cute parts of our quirkiness that we are willing to expose, it’s kind of freeing to ponder those moments that are filed away…and sometimes to just share with people you care about.
People like you.
Thanks for sharing the journey every week.
And if you are getting stuck on the opening bars of the song you were supposed to know by now…maybe it’s nice to know you are in good company <3