Saturday, November 9, 2013

Why I Play the Piano - A Story

This is a chapter from my new book - In Duet with God: The Story of a Lifelong Friendship - coming soon.

In the earliest moments of my gestation, I heard music. My mother played the piano and she practiced often. When she was pregnant, the vibrations of her favorite melodies—by Bach, Schubert, and Brahms—made their way to my developing cells. I was born a pianist.

My mother tried to teach me. But, as she has often said, it‘s not easy for a mother to teach her child, especially a daughter. So she found me a teacher. I began to study piano in earnest when I was eight.

Me, c. 1965
With my new teacher, I learned to read and play classical music--easy minuets by Bach were my favorites. She appreciated my penchant for composing, too. I recall perfectly the small pieces I produced. In my young handwriting, I drew the notes of the left hand—descending down the scale—and the simple melodies in the right. The seeds of the music I make now were there in those early creations.

Although I loved classical music, I was a child of the ‘60’s (and ’70’s). That era, rich with invention and variety, marked my musical coming of age. One morning, I was sitting on the front lawn. It was trash collection day. As the garbage truck approached, I heard a song that captivated me with its first chords.

The tune was coming from a small transistor radio hanging on the garbage's man's belt. Listening with avid interest, I followed that man all the way up the street as he emptied the bins. I couldn’t let go of the music. Once the song was finished, I rushed back to the house and to the piano. My ear tried to find the melody on the keyboard, my fingers searching through trial and error. The song, I later discovered, was James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain.”

Me, at the piano c.1978
Learning popular songs led me to experiment, to improvise. My favorite time was in the evening. Our living room faced west. The soft light of the setting sun filtered through the maple tree. In warm weather, I opened the leaded-glass windows. The cool evening breeze drifted in. I was alone with the piano and the sound.

At those times, my fingers moved over the keys with greater abandon. When certain harmonies arose, I’d savor them, entranced. After several minutes, a wonderful thing began to happen. Though I was often sad, my mood changed. I became peaceful and happy. As I played the music I loved, a veil dropped away, revealing a dimension where everything was okay.

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(c)2014 Jessica Roemischer/In Duet with God(R)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Most of the people think that learn play piano is quite easy all you need is to know the keys and here you are with a perfect music.