I sit next to my grandmother, affectionally known as Grimmas, staring in awe at the keys. Nearby, I hear someone say, “Grimmas will show you how to play.” She smiles and after a little prodding shows me how to play my very first “real song” on the piano. A little fun black key song using my knuckles. In this moment, I believe Grimmas is a master pianist, although I don’t know that word, yet, and I’m determined to convince her to teach me the piano. This is my first memory of my piano.
After slight disappointment upon discovering Grimmas would not be in concert anytime soon, I began to ask my parents about lessons. At the time, lessons were only offered to 1st graders. So as soon as I reached 1st grade, I was signed up for my first lessons and fell completely in love with notes, octaves, theory, rests… you name it and I was trying my darnest to learn it. I loved the way octaves could be the same notes but sound higher or lower. I played with the pedals learning the way they affected my music. I think I learned RBF (resting B face) from trudging through Classical songs, which I hated. I smiled in delight as I mastered harder and harder pieces and found myself a little as I picked songs that meant something to me. I even learned how to play a few songs backwards (laying with back on bench with head under the table and hands positioned thumbs out on keys) after watching someone do it on Double Dare on Nickelodeon. ps. I can still do it. 😉 As I grew up, the piano was an enjoyable time on good days and an escape on bad ones.
This love continued until college, where I stopped taking lessons and did not have easy access to a piano. While in college, some of you know I went through a few very tough experiences, one of which ruined the piano for me for a while. I lost the joy I had felt when I played, joy which was replaced by memories I didn’t want.
And so I fell out of tune with the piano. I had moved it from my Grandpa’s house to mine about a year prior and had barely touched it. That is, until the most unlikely of people reminded me how much fun it was to play. In that moment, as I sat there playing and laughing, I remembered how much I loved it and that I could still enjoy it, even if it would be a bittersweet experience from time to time. So I got it tuned and started playing the songs I still had memorized and felt that drive to learn come back.
And so now here I am, awake at 1am excitedly browsing through sheet music, planning the next pieces I’ll learn, all because of a random moment at a painted piano on a sidewalk. Sometimes when life knocks you down, you, too, might need a moment to remember what you love. Maybe you need to set down your passions to heal for a season like I did, but when that unlikely person or moment comes knocking to remind you, don’t be afraid to reignite that fire.