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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lessons in Piano

my dream piano
When I was a little girl, growing up in Kirkman, a lady of culture moved to our blue collar town. Not only had she formerly been a nun with a college education, but she taught piano lessons. Mrs. LaPorte. Next to my parents, she was one of my most influential figures from my childhood. What I didn't realize is how these piano lessons would stick with me for life. As a matter of fact, they practically...haunt me. Really.

I’m not really sure if I ever had a burning desire to take piano lessons. But when the idea was presented to me in the fourth grade, it certainly spurred my imagination. Me? A musician? Like Barbara Mandrell? Who’d a thought?

My piano teacher taught me to work hard and fostered a deep appreciation for, incredibly, classical music. I love most genres, actually, as long as I can find intricate melodies and harmonies. In high school, I accompanied various choirs and by my senior year, I won an elusive piano contest which had always been a little out of reach for me. Feeling fairly accomplished with my piano career, I was ready to retire the ebony and ivory for a college campus that was calling my name.

My band teacher had another idea. Already accepted to the U of Iowa, she drove me to Iowa City one day and had me audition for a piano scholarship. And despite having no intentions in majoring in music, I could hardly turn down the money. For my first year, at least. But I knew it wasn't really in my heart when I'd just stare at the walls in the practice room and wonder how much longer I should play around on the keys. I gave it up to pursue an English degree. Finally, a retirement from keyboarding was imminent.

Not quite. There was the tortuous wedding circuit. Once I finally extricated myself from that tour of duty, there was a need for accompanists at my kids' Catholic school. How could I not volunteer from that? I'm still doing it. But it has occurred to me that I NEED to retire, because this girl who majored in piano 25 years ago can't seem to discern a G sharp from a G natural or set a decent 3/4 tempo. It really makes me want to hurl when I screw up. That's a sign right? So, just as I was really, really considering the end of my piano career again, something else happened...

Our parish came into a need of accompanists. One organist has vertigo. Another (a young, super-talented musician) announced a move to Des Moines. That leaves us with one. And that a bit of a burden for her. Sigh.

Okay, if there is ever a sign not to give something up, this is it. I won't let my kids give up piano lessons. So, why should I give up playing?

Thank you, Mrs. LaPorte. I do miss you. While you taught me how to play piano, you also taught me much about sharing your gifts. Even if you are a little rusty.

1 comment:

Rubi J said...

Great blog. Good memories. Great lession.