Music has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. I started taking piano lessons when I was six after having picked out the upright piano I wanted in the piano store. (It turns out that I picked a good one.) While I’ll be the first to admit that I never had the talent to perform professionally, I enjoyed playing the piano and performed quite complicated pieces rather well in high school. In ninth grade, I gave a joint recital with my younger sister, performing a number of pieces including Mozart’s Twelve Variations on “Ah vous dirai-je, Maman” known in plain English as Twelve Variations on “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”.
My fondest memories of childhood music were chamber music. In tenth and eleventh grades, I had the honor of working with a local violinist who was just about my age. Together we performed Beethoven’s Spring Sonata for Piano and Violin. It was so much fun to work with another instrumentalist and to see music come and alive in dialogue between instruments. I fell in love with the different textures, and the power of music to convey dynamic emotions. I knew I was lucky to have the opportunity to play with this talented friend, and I learned a lot by watching her perform.
All through high school I dreamed of becoming one of those professionals who performs as a musician on the side. I talked to friends about playing at weddings and fell in love with chamber music. I got involved in church as a pianist, working in children’s ministry. I started volunteering as an accompanist for a local violin studio.
Then, last year of high school, illness struck. It was subtle at first, but the first thing to go was piano practice. No more three hour a day practices. No more one hour in the morning, one hour in the afternoon practices. At one point, it was down to fifteen minutes once a day (if I was willing to put up with a lot of pain.) How I made it through that last year of instruction, I really don’t know. I remember pacing backstage at the end of year recital; I knew I wasn’t prepared and all I wanted to do was be finished.
I tried really hard to continue to be involved in classical music in college, but it was too hard. The two music history classes I took tore my heart apart. I got to the point where I stopped listening to CDs of pianists, and I cried every time I went to a piano recital. Orchestra concerts were hard (and one of my two sisters was in orchestra every one of those years.) Even playing at home on my piano to myself was hard. It was just easier to run in the opposite direction. As days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years, I just kept running away from the music I had grown to love, unwilling to face the loss of something I loved.
It took about five years before I was ready to face the issue. I got back in touch with my best friend the musician who’s now touring the international stage. I reached out to the violin teacher I worked with in high school, and Alana and I are really close now. I live vicariously through her adventures of playing wedding gigs. I’m starting to find new ways to integrate music back into my life. For a while, I took violin lessons via Skype with Alana. I start playing for church services again. And, I’ve gone to a few concerts here and there.
Music? It’s an amazing part of my journey. It brings joy in ways nothing else can. It also brings sorrow. While time may not change it, I hope that time will mellow the harmony and that as the song progresses, the tide will turn. It feels like it already.