My Piano

February 3, 2010
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My piano. Eighty-eight keys, some black, some white. The F above Middle C sticks every humid summer, much to my annoyance. A blanket covers the stiff bench to alleviate the back pain I get from sitting up for hours straight. Its lid is always down, providing a place to stack my mountain of music books along with a way to mute the massive sound that otherwise consumes the TV in the other room.
Despite the stuck keys, uncomfortable bench, and thunderous sound, my piano is my oldest and dearest friend. It sings the song in my heart without uttering a single word. It can hold my hand when I cry and laugh with me when I’m amused. It allows me to express my emotions in ways words fail to. I can be myself when I’m sitting on its bench. There is no stress or fear: just me, the keys, and the endless melodies that lie ahead.
Even though my day is full of activities—school, swimming, work—I can never fully escape the piano. I usually find myself fingering through a Bach Two-Part Invention on my desk during AP Calculus or singing a Beethoven melody under my breath in AP Physics. There are many times when I go straight to the piano after swim practice and immerse myself in the music. I don’t even realize an hour slips by until I notice that my hair is completely dry. Even when I go over to friends’s house, I make the effort to bang on their piano, and I don’t stop until they drag me off fighting.
It wasn’t until my older sister started taking lessons that I wanted to learn how to play. Some of my earliest memories consist of listening to her lessons and, afterwards, begging her to teach me. My sister taught me how to tinker around on the keys until I was old enough for lessons of my own. Once a week on Tuesdays for thirty minutes, my teacher would come over to teach me how play on my own piano, and I absolutely loved it. Music was so new and intriguing at the time—an undiscovered playground all to myself. I am still captivated whenever I hear Schubert’s modulations or Mozart’s use of suspensions and retardations. I think it is this reoccurring fascination that keeps me motivated to keep practicing after these twelve long years.
Learning the piano was like trying to learn a new language—it took time and discipline. The first couple of years were rough; everything was complicated and overwhelming. The letters and symbols on the page obviously meant something, and I had the mighty task of decoding them all. It seemed impossible to play all those notes with only ten fingers and coordinate the corresponding foot petals. But I steered myself through the laborious years and I am eternally grateful because soon after came that moment: the realization that I was playing more than just notes—I was making music. I had given life to an assortment of notes on a page. It was so exhilarating; creating something that breathed with every dynamic swell and flirted with every trill and turn. That’s when I knew that the piano and I were going to be inseparable.
It wasn’t long until my affection for music spread, resulting in taking up the violin as well as joining the high school choir. Neither would have occurred if I hadn’t initially learned the piano. I am indescribably thankful for the opportunity I had to take lessons so, in retribution, I began to “pay it forward” by teaching piano to beginners. My hope is that one day, one of my students would grow to love music the way I do.
Though I cherish all my instruments, my piano is always my most beloved because of something it did for me that no one could at the time. It made me feel beautiful in a time when I couldn’t see the beauty within myself. It still does whenever I let my insecurities momentarily blind me. My self-doubt is forgotten the moment my fingertips touch those ivory keys. Any uncertainty I had disappears the moment the room fills with that bellowing music. I know that whenever I feel lost, my piano will always be there to find me. It’ll be there to laugh and sing and hold my hand.
Mastering the piano is my greatest accomplishment—there is no doubt about it. It has defined me more than my personal swimming achievements or my perfect grades. I take great pride in my vast school and sport successes, but they are small in comparison to the fulfillment learning piano has given me. Piano made me who I am today. It was there to soften the transition from the little girl I am leaving behind to the young woman I am becoming. And even though I seek other passions in life—I have no plans to major in music—I know the piano will always be the childhood friend who is merely at the tips of my fingers.

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