Friday, July 22, 2011

Mommy is Taking Piano Lessons!

So, did I mention I started taking piano lessons?  Come on, surely you suspected that I wanted to play piano myself back when I was obsessing over piano research prior to the purchase of Lucas (our boys' pet name for our Kawai full size upright piano.  It's a Star Wars thing). 

I believe I took less than a year of piano lessons as a child, around the same time I was struggling to stop biting my fingernails.  As my nails started to grow, I became very interested in having LONG, elegant fingernails, painting them different colors, sometimes with little flowers painted on...  When my piano teacher complained that my nails were too long and said they needed to be cut shorter, I quit piano and decided to devote more time to my manicures instead.  Yeah, whatever -- I'll bet you didn't have your priorities neatly in order as a twelve-year-old, either!

Sure, I would have learned faster if I had continued piano lessons as a child.  If ever I had it in me to play Chopin or Rachmaninoff, that window of potential talent may have closed for good decades ago.  I'll bet I lost a ton of classical piano brain cells in childbirth (along with the formula for determining the circumference of a circle, the Periodic Table, and certain arithmetic facts).  Resuming piano lessons in the, um, twilight of my thirties, I'm probably never going to be very good at it anyway, right?  So, why am I bothering? 

First of all, as an adult who regrets not learning to play piano as a child, I am more motivated to practice regularly than my kids are because I know what I'm missing out on if I don't follow through, and I really want to learn.  No one has to stand over me and alternate bribes with threats in order to get me to play.  See this article dispelling "kids learn faster than adults" and other common Piano Lesson Myths.  Secondly, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Tony Cicoria became obsessed with learning piano after being struck by lightning at age 42, with no previous musical experience or interest whatsoever, and he was able to become an accomplished pianist.  I'm no surgeon, but I'm not brain damaged by lightning strikes, either.  Surely there is hope for me as well!

I am a closet vocalist, singing for the thrill of making music in the shower, the garage, random empty stairwells in parking garages, and in certain little boys' bedrooms after story time.  When my voice is compromised by a sore throat and I can't get notes out the way I want to, I feel like the Little Mermaid who lost her voice.  The human voice is an instrument that deteriorates with age.  If you don't believe me, just listen to the original soundtrack recording of The Sound of Music and then listen to a more recent recording of Julie Andrews.  Learning piano gives me a backup instrument so I won't ever lose music, even if I lose my voice.  Also, when I'm singing, I'm limited by my vocal range, but with a piano I have the same 88 keys as everybody else and I can play any kind of music I want.  Or rather, I hopefully will be able to play any kind of music I want, as long as I keep up with my lessons and with practicing.

But here's one more reason why I'm taking piano lessons, and why I encourage other parents to pursue any dreams they may still have on the back burner, whether it's learning an instrument, or ballroom dancing, or sewing, or anything else: Our children are watching.  We guide them through childhood, encouraging them along the right path as much as possible, hoping they will find their way, but so many people come to a point in their lives where they have hit a dead end personally or professionally and they have to start over.  I want my sons to see that learning is a lifelong endeavor, not something that comes to an abrupt end after graduation.  I want them to know that it is never too late to start over, to choose a new direction, to nurture a new passion.  I'm not going to tell my kids that I'm too old to learn to play piano, because I don't want them to ever feel "too old" to learn something new.  Vive la musique!

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