Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Pianist

I have devoted years of my life to playing the piano. I started lessons right before I turned five and continued through college. It was one of my passions. It was a place I could go to be alone and express myself. It was a place that was continually challenging me to practice more and try harder. It was a place that was rewarding to me. It was a gift that I could share. Playing the piano was not just something that I did. It was part of me coming through my hands and from my heart.

Early in our marriage Sean recognized my need to play. So when someone asked him if we would be willing to "house sit" a piano in our apartment, he arranged with some friend to have it moved up three flights of stairs into our little home. They carried it on their backs.

I remember pulling Hannah up next to me in her high chair and letting her play along while my big pregnant Lydia belly was getting in the way. We would sing together. I would play happy tunes and watch her grin. I'd play slow, sad pieces that would cause her to look concerned. We did this about every afternoon before naps. Baby Lydia would kick and move all around. In my new found role as mommy, it was comforting to have a hobby such as this. It reminded me that though my life was changing in essence I was still me.

The piano went back to its owner when we moved into another apartment. Four years later when we moved into our first home my parents graciously gave me the piano that I had grown up playing. It was like having an old friend come to visit.

As the years have gone on my piano playing has almost come to a complete halt. Time is definitely a factor. There is little time to practice anything new, let alone to review what I know. Whenever I do sit down to work through some music suddenly there are 8 hands joining in to play along. It's really hard to share a bench with three kids and a fourth on my lap.

I so enjoy watching our older children learn to play. They struggle at times measure by measure, even note by note. But with persistence they work it through and their efforts result in sweet songs. Because playing the piano is a passion of mine, I've hired a piano teacher to instruct them. I know that may sound foolish, but I have found little patience in teaching them. This is perhaps the one area in which there is a glimpse of perfectionism in me. I do not want to ruin the experience for them or myself.

I do not miss it in the same way as I did years ago. I accept this season of life as one that doesn't allow for hours of practice or leisurely piano playing. I do, however, have dreams of someday taking lessons again and maybe even playing in a recital or two. Perhaps I'll teach my grandchildren.


Kathy in WA said...

Monica - I loved this post. Your passion for the piano shone through as well as acceptance for being in a different state of life.

Two of my five are taking lessons. It's difficult to be consistent with their practice times. Dh loves it when I sit down and play and play.

I don't do it nearly enough. Thanks for the reminder to enjoy the piano.

Tisha said...

Monica what a beautiful post. I wish I had some musical talent. When my boys messed up I don't even notice...ha! See ya soon. :)

Heather L. said...

I totally understand your hiring a piano teacher!!! It does make a difference. I haven't done that yet for Rachel, but I would kind of like to -- I'm just so inconsistent in sitting down to help her (and I have to be the one to initiate it). My parents made piano lessons a real priority, which was interesting considering our financial situation growing up. I'm glad for all the training I had (though not as much as you) and I also find it very hard to sit down at the piano these days.

mindi said...

It's wonderful to have your own passions, your own sense of self. And to have dreams for the future :)

elaine@bloginmyeye said...

I can relate. My violin is in the same season as your piano. I started on the piano at 8 and it was if a whole new world opened up. Music is such a blessing.

Cindy-Still His Girl said...

I remember sitting in your parents' house on Fall Break and watching/listening to you play. You amazed me then. You amaze me now. I love you!

Mary@notbefore7 said...

I wish I had stuck it out wiht piano, but it was not my thing. I guess i just have to accept that.

i think it was brilliant to hire a teacher. I fear butting heads when I teach them math because it comes so easy to me and I fear the "expectation" or frustration.

It is great that you can pass on your love for piano to them. Perhaps one of them will take it on as you have!

Sniz said...

Monica, my mom is the best piano player I know. She was a music major in college, well on her way to being a concert pianist, when she met and married my dad and became a "preacher's wife church pianist". When I was growing up, I had natural talent, but my mom never wanted to teach me. She always sent me to lessons. She said she loved to play, but she didn't love to teach. Now she is teaching my you said, maybe you will teach your grandchildren. But I think that's just the nature of things. I think it's awesome that you played before, and know you will play again! But I totally understand having someone else teach your kids! :-)

mom24 said...

I used to love to play the piano (although I never played as much or well as you)! But I don't have tghe time for it either and get bored with playing the same pieces. I am only starting to comes to terms with the fact thaqt there just isn't enough time for these things in this season of life. But I certainly plan on hiring a teacher for my kids! I hope they will learn to enjoy it as much also!
Thanks for this post!