Friday, January 7, 2011
Upon a bulletin board in my kitchen is a little scrap of paper that I cut from a magazine years ago. It has an underlined title that reads be yourself and underneath that is this quote: "If your life is in harmony...then your life is full and good, but not overcrowded. If it is overcrowded, you are doing more than is right for you, more than is your job to do in the total scheme of things". The quote is credited simply to Peace Pilgrim, Activist.
When I was eight years old I began taking piano lessons. I continued for the next ten years. I loved and love playing the piano. I'm not very good however. But I always had a passion for piano music and I had a very kind and wise piano teacher who realized that it was more important for her to keep me playing, rather than to scold me for not learning my chords or for not improving much after a certain point. She realized, you see, that I had passion for many different things in my life. I wanted time to act and sing and write. I wanted to be in almost every club, do well in school, and make time for family and friends. I also had the fortunate or perhaps unfortunate luck to follow in the footsteps of two incredibly gifted pianists who were two grades above me in school. Those two girls each inspired me immensely but I never had much confidence in my own talent as a pianist. Compared to them, well, let's just be grateful that Mr. H suggested I learn how to play the vibes before my freshman year in high school. He kept me involved in the jazz band in this way and for that I am very grateful. I even won a few awards for my vibes solos !
But almost 19 years ago, when we moved into our newly built first house, my parents brought down my piano. Along with the old upright, which had first been my mother's, arrived my wooden filing cabinet full of piano books and sheet music, and my wooden metronome. Metronomes help a piano student keep a steady tempo. For a new learner, it's an audible reminder not to go too fast or too slow. Most days I enjoy the pace of adante. It's a rather slow walking tempo. It has a flowing movement. At other times I prefer adagio. It's very slow and expressive.
As students we often remember the lessons of our teachers, long after we've left their classrooms. Mrs. A passed on to me an appreciation for music and the courage to hang onto the joy of playing piano, no matter the setting of the metronome. Lessons from wise mentors and the little scraps of paper around my house remind me that the best way to keep my life in harmony is to always be myself and to establish my own pace.