Music has always been a huge part of my life. Ever since I was little, having music around, singing along, and attending concerts was always so important.
I realize now how beneficial it was to me while growing up, as an emotional outlet and much more. Sometimes I wonder how I would survive without it.
I remember falling asleep every night as a child to my Michael Jackson cassette (the album Bad, in particular) playing on my little boom box, always begging my mom to just let me listen to the other side.
Then, during my angst-ridden teenaged years, I would shut myself in my room and blast my favourite punk bands, such as Nirvana, Hole, Babes In Toyland, and others. I had a red electric guitar, which I would bang on while singing – more like screaming, actually – along to the music. I didn’t realize it then, but this was extremely therapeutic.
And when I began having children, I made sure they were immersed in music of various types. Whether it was listening to the radio during meals, going to shows, or singing to them at every possible opportunity (despite my singing voice), all three seem to have developed a great appreciation for music as well.
All this to say, music means everything to me. And so it was significant when, during a time of major transition in my life, my colleague at my long-time job, which I recently left, offered to give me a piano.
I’d been thinking, and fantasizing, about learning to play piano for months, though I hadn’t told anyone or made any serious moves to look into it. It was just a thought floating in my mind – wouldn’t that be so cool?
I’ve recently become a major fan of the British musician Joe Jackson, who has been around for decades, as the singer-songwriter behind such classics as Is She Really Going Out With Him? and Steppin’ Out, along with many, many other great songs spanning a wide range of genres, including post-punk, pop, jazz, swing and classical.
I’ve spent a lot of time exploring his extensive musical catalogue and marvelling at the cleverness and quality of his song-writing and his diverse range of musical abilities.
And once again, I found music guiding me through some tough emotional times recently, helping me maintain my equilibrium and simply providing hours upon hours of pure pleasure and escape.
I’ve been so deeply moved by the range of emotion Jackson is able to express through his craft, it led me to wonder what I might be able to accomplish musically, as a hobby, if I actually tried, and so, it’s inspiring me to finally “give it a go.”
And I’ve always perceived the piano as an incredibly beautiful, rich, challenging instrument. So when my colleague offered to give me one, I eagerly accepted.
A few days later, the piano movers arrived, much to my delight. It took my breath away.
The gorgeous upright piano, obviously well-loved, fit perfectly in my apartment. For the first few days, I mostly stared at it in awe. Could I actually do this?
No one was more excited than my six-year-old daughter, who seems to have inherited my love of music. Where I stayed back for the first little while, she dove right in, tinkering on the keys and looking intently through the music books that came with the piano, though neither of us could read music.
There’s nothing move divine than listening to her joyfully explore the keys and sounds while I work in the kitchen.
And when I finally sat down at the piano for the first time, on a quiet grey afternoon when everyone was gone, I felt a sense of excitement and determination. I opened a children’s book, and focused on learning the basic notes and some warm-ups.
I felt a quiet calm come over me. It felt good, it felt natural, almost familiar. It continues to feel that way.
It’s also incredibly challenging, but when I am sitting at that piano, working to read the music and nail the notes, I feel in the zone. And that’s something I won’t, I can’t give up.
It’s going to be a long road, but it’s a challenge that is inspiring and fulfilling me in a way I didn’t realize possible.
And as I face many ongoing challenges in my life and parenting journey – including much heartbreak and trials unlike anything I’ve ever experienced – it’s clear this is exactly what I need to help me through.
Music, again, saves the day.