I think I was probably 2 or 3 when I knew I wanted to play the piano. By the time I was in second grade I was tickling the ivories - sort of. The keys just happened to be going in the wrong direction and there were quite a few push buttons to go along with them. It wasn't a piano, but rather an accordion. Not my first choice - or even my last for that matter, but I grew to love it (only took me about 15 years). Thankfully, my piano dreams came true when I was 12 and received what to this day is my best Christmas gift ever... a second-hand Lester brown upright that was one of the most beautiful things I had ever laid eyes on.
September is National Piano Month, so in the spirit of this month-long celebration, I wanted to profess not only my deep affection for the almighty piano but also the vehicle that started the decades-long love affair...music lessons.
Had it not been for lugging around a 25-pound squeezebox at 8 years old, I'm pretty sure I never would have ventured further down the musical path that eventually led to working professionally as a singer/songwriter and yes ... a piano player. ;)
All this to say that if anyone out there is thinking of putting your child in music lessons, please don't hesitate. Yes, they may hate it, but you may just find that they develop a fondness for music that you (and they) never thought possible. My mom used to say that if she didn't hear piano music coming from our home, she knew she must be in the wrong place. As Judy Garland sang, I have and will always ... love a piano.
I know finances can sometimes factor in with families simply unable to afford the cost of buying an instrument in addition to regular lessons. The good news is that second-hand instruments can sound just a pretty as the new ones when you know how to play them, and you can always teach yourself with the help of books and online videos.
Growing up in a single-parent household, cost was the deciding factor for taking up the accordion which we managed to rent for just a few dollars a month. It's the same one I bought years later when I was 20. As an adult, I also chose to upgrade from my original upright piano to an electronic version. I still remember the shock in my mother's voice when I called to tell her I had just financed a $10,000 Yamaha at a mall during Christmas. She thought I was crazy, but admits it was one of the best purchases I ever made.
Finally, for any adults out there who have ever wanted to play but never got around to it - seize the day! That old piano of mine still sits in the corner of my mother's house. When I asked her why she keeps it around considering she doesn't play, she told me she's decided she wants to start taking lessons. If she can do it ... well, you know the rest.
Happy National Piano Month!