I was raised in a musical family. My father supported us through his accordion band and music school where I began piano lessons at the age of six years. Most of my years of practice were filled with tears. My hands didn’t seem to stretch far enough to play complicated chords. Quitting was not an option. I did what was expected of me, for ten years.
In my sixteenth year, my piano teacher spoke with my father and told him that there was nothing more that she could teach me. She could bring a complicated classical piece of music to me and I could play it without practice. My mind and my fingers were extremely well-coordinated. My hands knew how to stretch and play the once-insurmountable chords.
This was a right of passage and filled with a tinge of sadness. I had grown to love my piano teacher, I even enjoyed playing the piano for fun, buying sheet music of the most popular songs on the hit parade. Of course, I already had an extensive collection of classical music—that is what I was taught. The tearful days of struggling to play the piano were far behind me.
When I married and moved far away from Chicago, my husband bought me an antique, upright piano. I absolutely loved it! Yet, I didn’t play as much as I might have, life became busy with our children, but every Christmas, they gathered around the piano to sing carols while I played.
Twenty years ago, I quit playing the piano when I needed eyeglasses. I’m certain it was a mental-block of sorts, but, it did disrupt my rhythm. The piano was rendered silent and I gave it away along with my life-long collection of sheet music. I told myself that it wasn’t important, I could always listen to classical music on CDs, radio, or now, the internet.
Today, while listening to Chopin, Beethoven, Hayden, and many others, my hands want to play along on a piano’s keyboard. I would love to be able to make music again with my hands, but, now, it is not only my eyes that have grown old–my fingers and hands are in constant pain.
Arthritis, cubital and carpal tunnel syndrome have settled in. These hands. These once strong, creative, gentle extensions are growing crippled. It is a sad realization.
Now, I shall close my eyes and in my mind’s eye watch these hands glide upon a memory’s keyboard to the classical tunes my digital library plays for me.
“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts – such is the duty of the artist.”
– Robert Schumann
Featured photo copyright: Kellepics