WhenI was little, I wanted to be the teenager I saw on TV. I wanted to be the typicalteen suffering under the iron-fisted rule of his parents, forced to complete hisdaily chores. I was seven when my father bought my mother an upright piano, and Isaw my opportunity to leap into that average world.
To be as cool as thekids I saw on TV, I had to find some chore to complain about. When I asked mymother if I could take piano lessons, she demanded commitment: I would eithercontinue playing until I left for college, or be thrown out of the house. She washalf kidding, but I took her seriously. I was one of the few (if not the only)kids in the neighborhood who decided for himself to study the piano.
Asthe days passed, I was forced to turn down dates with friends. Why? With a rollof my eyes I'd explain, "I have to practice the piano." It felt great -almost like a teenager.
Then, I shocked myself by actually findingsatisfaction in playing.
Progressing through Bach's two-part inventions, Ifound both a challenge and a means of relaxation. It reached the point that whilemost days I still practiced to keep the warden happy, some days I would just sitdown for hours to perfect a piece. Other instruments - the recorder and thesaxophone - came and went at the will of my school music teacher. They wereforced on me, so I had no real interest in them and let them go. I continued withthe piano as the years passed, and fewer friends continued their musiclessons.
Years later, my musical interest grew to include the guitar, andeventually I started my own disk-jockey business. The satisfaction I get fromcreating and manipulating music is far greater than the sacrifices of time spentpracticing and money invested in buying instruments and equipment. I'm sure thatmany people do not continue studying because of a bad experience. If you'reforced, your only desire will be to stop. This is true with anything. Careers,for example, should reflect a love of the field and natural ability.
Ask ateacher why he or she teaches, and you will almost always hear: "I just loveto teach." I have learned from my piano that if you make a willful decisionto do something, and love doing it, you will succeed. Although my initial planfailed - I'm not that teenager on television - I have something I love doing, soI think I'll be able to live with myself.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.