Jesus, Music, Piano

The One with the Lifelong Piano Student

Since I finally started teaching piano lessons again this fall, I have been reminiscing about my own history of piano. 
Maybe this is in an effort to recall lessons I learned for the sake of keeping ahead of my students. 
Or maybe it’s just because this grand and glorious instrument has always had a place in my life. 
I remember hopping up on the piano bench next to my momma or my grams. 
I thought my playing was superb.
They, of course, agreed.
I began taking piano lessons at age 8. 
This subject matter did not come easily for me–
most likely because math was (is) not my forte.
Yeah, can you believe it?? Music–the right brained freedom of artful expression is rooted in the left brained specifics of mathematics and logic. 
I loved playing the piano.
I just hated practicing. 
My mother can attest to this. 
However, I always very strongly disliked having anyone play my piano better than me. 
Whenever my mom or a friend sat down to play, I was certain they were doing it to shame me. 
I realize now that this was likely not the case, 
but it did manage to kick my rear into gear a time or two. 
Though the ability was not natural, my musical ear was. 
I easily felt the right tempo and knew immediately if a wrong note had been played. 
This helped, but also frustrated me along the way. 
KNOWING I was wrong and not being able to play it better was just plain frustrating. 
Just six months after starting piano lessons, I began taking voice lessons from the same teacher. 
These came SO MUCH easier. 
There was nothing to it, really. 
The ease at which I learned to sing was only adding to my snail’s pace advancement in piano.
Eventually, I pushed myself to improve and by senior year of high school, I was able to do a bit of accompanying for my school choir. 
I auditioned for a piano scholarship at Spring Arbor University (against my will–I knew I wasn’t up to snuff).
I received a small scholarship and spent the next four years being challenged way beyond my comfort zone. 
My new instructor was loving and gifted, but was always pushing. 
For every semester’s recital, I had to have my piece memorized. 
NOT a skill I had honed previously. 
I remember practicing in one of the many non-sound-proofed piano rooms and being ashamed at my playing in comparison with those piano students performing around me. 
I hoped no one would know it was me. :)
My sophomore year, I tackled Debussy’s Clair de Lune and performed it from memory at the recital. 
That was my moment of glory. 
I was proud. so proud. 

Though my skills in classical music may not have heightened since my last lesson over 2 years ago, 
I have been reaping the benefits of those 14 years of piano lessons ever since. 
Each Sunday I play piano/keyboard along with the worship team for church. 
I have learned to improv from chords. 
I have been forced to understand key signatures to a greater degree.
My sight reading abilities have sky rocketed. 
I have to be ready and willing to play whatever, whenever.
And I look forward to continuing to teach students who are excited to learn. 
Teaching reinforces my knowledge of music to such an extent that I learn it twice as well as I had before. 
My students sometimes challenge my understanding and my memory and while it’s a bit freaky it’s also really great “exercise.”
I don’t know where I’ll be–musically–in 10 or 20 years–but I pray I continue to use my abilities to glorify Jesus Christ. 
Because He’s the whole point. 

4 thoughts on “The One with the Lifelong Piano Student

  1. I wish I lived near you and you could give me lessons!!! I played in elementary school and then played clarinet in high school but I wish I could play piano now!

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