I have been playing the piano for at least seven years. I started “official” lessons in third grade, but I was taking informal lessons from my friend Kari (who was about fourteen or so at the time) when I was in first or second grade. I quit piano for most of eighth grade, but started again before the year ended. Anyway, if you do the math, it comes out to seven years.
For the time between Kari’s lessons and dropping out, I had one teacher: Mr. Jennings. Mr. Jennings was nice, I guess, but had a lot of students and got really mad when I did not practice for whatever reason. I ended up hating piano and practicing and just about anything to do with Mr. Jennings. By the time I quit, it had gotten pretty ridiculous. I barely progressed, even after several weeks of playing the same song. Mr. Jennings was not a bad teacher or anything, I just do not think his personality fit mine well. I am the kind of person who likes to make comments and conversation about the piece or life or whatever. Mr. Jennings was always pretty taciturn. Also, he was very strict about practicing and demanded perfection while playing the piece before I could “pass” it or move on.
I restarted piano with a new teacher, Miss Kitty. Miss Kitty is so different from Mr. Jennings (Except, they both own cats. Weird . . . ), in just about every way. She always makes conversation, is very laid back, is understanding when I have not practiced (unless it is like three weeks in a row) and rarely gets angry (Mr. Jennings has been known to yell. Loudly). She lets me have a lot more choice in what songs I play and that sort of thing. She always gives all of her students (she does not have as many as Mr. Jennings) a Christmas and a birthday gift.
She makes me want to play the piano. Unless you have spent as many years as I have avoiding practicing, you do not know what this feels like. I long to go play (I always seem to remember after at least one parent has gone to bed), and I practice a lot more.
This trend is relatively recent, perhaps since the beginning of sophomore year? For most of ninth grade, I was pretty neglectful of practice. This change makes me incredibly happy. I have finally found joy in something I disliked, detested, hated, for years. I always managed to be playing when people come over, even when I was with Mr. Jennings. You know me, center of attention. But now, I play even when no one but me is listening. I love that feeling. If I ever start neglecting piano again, remind me of how much I love it, OK?
(This reminds me of what Sherlock Holmes says to Dr. Watson at the end of The Adventure of the Yellow Face,
“Watson,” said he, “if it should ever strike you that I am getting a little over-confident in my powers, or giving less pains to a case than it deserves, kindly whisper ‘Norbury’ in my ear, and I shall be infinitely obliged to you.”
OK, so the allusion is a bit tenuous. Still. Pretty fucking amazing that I remembered that at all, I would say.)
Seven years it has taken me to learn how great the piano is. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from such joy! But it is all right, everything is all right, the struggle is finished. I have won the victory over myself. I love playing the piano.
(See, this was a better allusion: Nineteen Eighty-Four ftw! [see last lines])