Piano Lessons

December 14, 2009
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On my first day of lessons, I walked into my new school to a huge hand painted collage covering the entirety of the left wall. It incorporated scenes from at least twenty different musicals and there were tie-dye swirls and rainbows everywhere. Being a six year old who had just learned what a hippie was, in my Mary-Kate and Ashley videos, I was infatuated with anything pertaining to hippies. I wore a tie-dye t-shirt, a peace sign pendant around my neck, my hair ran in two long braids down my back, and around my forehead I wore a small headband in the hippie fashion. Fortunately at this point, I still had my childish innocence and no idea what real hippies did, so people didn’t question my unusual dress. Then, to my utter astonishment, from behind a curtain in the back, out stepped a real life hippie. He was a tall and skinny young man with long, wavy brown hair and a mustache. He wore light blue bellbottom jeans, a leather vest, and, like me, a tie-dye t-shirt. He was the epitome of a stereotypical hippie. From that moment on he was my role model and I listened to every word like it was the law.

The piano playing started off easy enough. I quickly picked up the concept of scales and the other kids in my group lesson grew envious, as I became the teacher’s pet. My teacher used a system of color-coding the notes that made the lessons comprehensible for a six year old and soon class days became my favorite days of the week. Then one day, we received some truly terrible news. The music shop was closing. Apparently my hippie teacher had better things to spend his earning on than rent, and they were being evicted. I was devastated. I lost my role model, my hero, and my inspiration for playing. I vowed I would never again play piano, but my mother wouldn’t have that.
Within the week she had signed me up for classes at a new little shop called The Music Room. It was a cozy little play that smelled homely and warm, but I was determined that I would never play again, and let me tell you, I was a stubborn child. On my first day of class, my mother had to drag me out of the car, kicking and screaming. I made a terrible scene, and my embarrassed mother gave up on her struggle before even reaching the doors of the shop. Reluctantly, she let me run back to the car and we went home. Two days later, after hours of timeouts and crying in my room, we returned to the Music Room, and this time I made it into the little room for my first lesson with my new teacher. He was an old little man, with a bald patch and a bulging potbelly that touched the piano bench when he leaned over to point out a note on the music. His lessons left me sleepy and bored, and my desire to play faded everyday. Soon I absolutely detested piano lessons and would do anything to keep from going. My mother had never played an instrument, but was determined to have a daughter fluent in the arts and would not let me quit, no matter how hard I argued with her.
Over the next two years, I had a few other different teachers, but my desire to play never increased. I struggled through the lessons because I never practiced. Then I would be berated by the teacher, try again, and eventually start crying out of frustration. Eventually my lack of practice became so bad, one teacher made my parents buy me an assignment notebook that that had to sign off on. My mother gradually started noticing my misery, and the search for a new teacher began.
My mother’s diligence in keeping me in piano shocked and annoyed me. I was a generally spoiled child who had never had to do anything I didn’t want to do, but no matter what I did, I couldn’t get out of piano. After weeks of searching, my mother was referred to a new teacher by one of her friends. I hoped this time, things would be different and maybe I would get another cool, hippie teacher. I was very off, to say the least.
Ms. Irene showed up at our house and from the moment she walked in, I knew my piano career would never be the same. She was quite a large woman, but you could tell she was beautiful in her youth. She commanded herself with an unprecedented grace and confidence. When she spoke, in her think Romanian accent, her voice was commanding, yet gentle. The first thing she did upon her arrival, was sit at the piano and play as incredible, intricate classical piece; I was astonished. Never before in my life had I heard someone play something that beautiful and almost instantly, my will to play was restored.
Ms. Irene taught me until I graduated from Jr. high. Throughout those six years, there were many times when I loved playing piano, and many times when I hated it. But no matter what, I always enjoyed the finished product. I loved being able to sit at the piano, after weeks of practice, and play a piece from start to finish with few errors. I’m very glad that my mother was diligent in her quest to get me to play piano and although I tried very hard to, I’m happy my determination and attempts to quit never worked out.

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