I remember being a little kid, around three years old, and climbing up onto the stool in front of the piano. My grandma came over and placed her hands on mine and told me that if I couldn’t play softly, I couldn’t learn to play at all. I was pounding on the keys. When I could reach the keys, my grandma started teaching me a few songs. One was a warm up, but I still loved to play it and the other was O Little Town of Bethlehem, but only the right hand part.
I began taking piano lessons when I was eleven years old and I took them until I was nineteen. The one thing that took me the longest to be able to do was to sight read sheet music. I don’t know why, but it did. One summer, while my piano teacher was on vacation, I sat at the piano in my grandparents’ house and was determined to learn how to sight read my new piece of sheet music. I don’t remember the name off the top of my head, but I know it was a song by Madonna. It took me a few tries but before I knew it, I was playing the song without having the keys written in. Patty was so proud of me when I got to show her that I did it and without much help.
My mom, grandma and I play. I think even my great-grandmother played but I’m not entirely sure. I never got to ask her. I usually hate to play in front of people and if someone is singing along with me, forget it. I get lost. As much as I have played Beethoven, Brahms, Bach, whatever, I still to this day cannot tell you the difference between an eighth, quarter and a half note. I can sight read what the keys are, but not the pace. I play songs that I know how they go so I know the pace that I am supposed to play the song.
When I started high school, I had just fallen in love with the Backstreet Boys. Yes I was one of those pop, boy band crazy teenagers. I don’t know why but I love to read the thank you’s on the covers of CDs. I was still struggling with threatening suicide and trying my best to deal with the changing of hormones and dealing with every day life. I had just bought the Backstreet Boys first album and as I was reading the thank you’s, one line at the end of AJ McLean’s stood out and has stuck with me.
“Music is love. Love is music. Music is my life and I love my life.”
I read that one line over and over. I figured out in that moment that I truly did love my life. I was thankful for being alive. I stopped threatening suicide about a year later. My mom, a friend and that one quote all helped to save my life. I never go one moment without some music, whether I am listening to it or hearing it in my head, a song is always with me.
Tonight I sat in front of that piano in I don’t know how long and realized how rusty I was. I had the hardest time playing a song that I used to play without the sheet music. I know that I need to practice and maybe this year will be a year to get back into music. I am developing my comfort level to sing in front of people. Maybe now I need to focus on playing the piano more. Piano is one of the few things I can do for hours and not get sick of.
Music will always be a part of my life. In one way or another.