I have played the piano since I was five years old. No piece of music was too hard for me to play, I just had to practice it long enough.
Music Calms The Savage Beast
Playing the piano was a way for me to work through the swinging emotions and calm Bip. I would play for hours. I would play songs from the 20’s to the 60’s. I would play Rag Time. I would play hymns. I would play Beethoven, Bach and other classical. I would play Broadway and movie themes.
I often started with music that was loud, fast and intense. Mostly because Bip was rampaging. As I played I moved to softer, slower and more relaxed. Sometimes it only took a few songs. Most times Bip would not be calmed that easily. Those were the times that I played for hours. I played until the beast finally calmed. Or at least stopped rampaging.
About 13 years ago I started having difficulty playing the piano. It started slowly at first. I could read the music just fine. My fingers could play just fine. For some reason my brain could no longer talk to my fingers. I would stumble while playing something I’d played for years. Then I couldn’t sight-read music. One day, I just couldn’t play anymore. Just playing with one hand was difficult.
After 30 years of playing well and being able to sight-read most anything I was no longer able to play. I was angry and frustrated. Mostly, though, I was just sad. One of the most joyous things in my life had just been taken.
I Couldn’t Fix It
I have spent the last decade trying to learn to play again. I have had no success. I finally, just stopped trying to play. It was too painful. Too depressing. I sometimes just sat at the piano and cried.
I still taught. Some. Mostly family. I could still read music and sort of demonstrate some of the music and technique and they learned to play well. I haven’t taught much in the last 5 years or so, simply because it made me sad.
When I broke my finger, something happened. I sat down at the piano to play a simple children’s song and I played it. My fingers could read the music. Of course I had difficulties because my finger was in a splint, but I could play. I almost started to cry in wonder.
Since I got the pin out of my finger and the splint off I play almost every day. I can’t get enough of playing. I am playing the songs of my childhood. The hollow place not playing left in my heart has started to fill again. Quickly.
I haven’t tried the difficult stuff yet, I’m kind of afraid to. I think I’ll just work the stiffness out of my newly healed finger playing the music that evokes warm memories and joy. Music I played for my grandparents and great-grandparents.
I don’t know what has happened to reconnect my fingers to the music. Something has changed in my brain, obviously. Could it be that I am letting go of so much emotional baggage? Could it be that some clogged part of my brain has finally been cleared? I don’t know. I’m not sure that I care. I’m just glad that I can play again.
My youngest daughter wants to learn to play so badly that she has taught herself quite a bit with just a little coaching. I think I will start her regular lessons now. We can play duets and practice together. My granddaughter wants to learn to play. Maybe we will include her in the lessons.
Playing the piano again brings so much release and joy in my life. It just isn’t as portable as my crochet.