Not many people know this about me, but one of my hobbies from childhood was playing the piano. I took lessons from age 7 through age 18. When I was younger, I played songs in the classical, ragtime, and rock genres. My piano teacher focused his instruction on teaching me how to play songs (which I memorized) as opposed to sight-reading music.
Playing the piano was very therapeutic for me, especially when I felt low due to feeling rejected at school due to my weight. When I got home, I often found solace by playing the piano and losing myself in the music. This made me feel better about my life and gave me hope things would be okay in the future. For my 4th grade chorus concert, I played piano accompaniment for a song called “Music is Heart to Heart”. On the day of the performance I was so nervous, but I got through the song successfully, with only one minor mistake.
In high school, my weekly lessons continued, but I did not have as much time to practice because of color guard. I remember my guard mates enjoyed it when I played for them. One year, with my piano teacher’s help, I learned how to play our guard’s show music from the Ladyhawke soundtrack the year we won the championships. After high school graduation, I stopped taking piano lessons.
During college, I played occasionally because I was part of the Rutgers Concert Band as a mallet percussionist and became a member of the band fraternity. During this time, I met some extremely talented musicians. I remember playing “Up Where We Belong” on a baby grand piano in a practice room and before I knew it, my very talented friend sat at the piano across from me and added layers of beautiful accompaniment to the song. That was one of the coolest moments in my life because for the first time, I played the piano with another person and we sounded awesome. Other friends gathered around us and listened. The camaraderie felt so amazing, it is difficult to capture this feeling in words.
Since I graduated college and moved to Connecticut 21 years ago, I basically stopped playing. Thirteen years ago, I bought a black lacquer upright piano, but due to life, I rarely sat down to play. Over the years, the songs in my memory started to fade. I believe the only piece I can still play in its entirety is “Fur Elise” by Beethoven. Every other song, I only remember certain sections.
Recently, I had the opportunity to try “jamming” with a buddy of mine who plays guitar. He was playing a song I was familiar with. As he played, he told me which chord was next. Because I had some musical training, I was able to follow his cues and create music with him. Of course, I had no idea what I was doing, but I was having a blast nonetheless.
The feeling of playing with my friend took me back to that day in college 23 years ago. At that moment, I knew I needed to start playing again. I am not sure if I can remember songs I used to play, but I look forward to learning new songs while developing my improvisational skills. This past week, I bought an 88-weighted-key electric piano, stand, bench, power cord, and sustain pedal for less than $300 on Amazon. I am so excited to play again and awaken my inner musician. I look forward to hearing where this new journey will take me. Stay tuned!
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