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Piano Lessons Inspire Creativity

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Quote of the Day:  Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Every once in a while you might see the challenge on Facebook asking that in the next five days you list three things that you are grateful for. My friend Beth nominated me. (This seemed like a much warmer challenge than dumping a bucket of ice water on my head. I think I’ll contribute to ALS, click that to donate, just because I wasn’t nominate for the cold dump. They also have a facebook page. I have enjoyed some of the videos, though.)

DSC_0288Back to the challenge that I did accept. On Monday, I wrote about my four sons, took their annual First Day of School pic, and wrote three things about them for which I am grateful (they’re all intelligent, kind, and independent, not to mention handsome). On Tuesday, I taught piano lessons, got the boys haircuts and school supplies, drove them to football practice, picked them up from practice and brought them to open house at the school, and completely forgot to write down the three things that I was grateful for on Day #2. So, I did it this morning. I wrote about my piano, piano lessons, and how grateful I am for that gift of music. I had more to say on the subject, so I’m turning it into a blog post.

The skill, and gift, that I am most grateful for is playing the piano. It has been my connection with other people and a way for me to process life. No matter how I feel, I can always play the piano. So, in my gratitude list, I first thanked my mom for telling me that I was going to take piano lessons. I couldn’t wait to get started. And, of course, she encouraged me throughout my many years of lessons, not to mention paid for them, and always praised me for sharing that gift, and even today, I can hear her say, “Jump on the bench, Mary.” and “You play so musically.” 

And, now, I can share that love of music with my piano students. Each one comes in with a new perspective. They inspire me as much as I encourage them. I know that many weeks, especially in the summer, that half hour with me is the only time they touch the keyboard. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing, and brand new beginners really need someone sitting next to them helping them place their fingers on the right keys, tapping out the rhythm and encouraging, always encouraging. 

Music, especially playing it, inspires me in other creative endeavors. I find myself thinking about stories and characters. I plan meals and think about how I can connect with friends. I organize my thoughts for articles that I’m writing, and I work through my emotions. And, now, I have students who are learning both piano and writing! That is the greatest joy I have thus far experienced as a teacher. My student, a bright eyed girl who is going into the third grade, hangs with me for an hour, half of it learning the piano, the other half writing. At first she wrote about a summer trip, then her pets, and at the end of her third piano/writing lesson, as I was thinking about a good writing prompt for her, we played a new song called “Listen to the Drums.” It’s a two note song for the beginner, middle C in the right hand and F in the bass clef for her left hand. To encourage her to practice, I said, “I’ll play the duet part with you next week when you have this down.” She wanted to hear it, so I played that awesome low note rhythm, Bam, ba, ba, bam bam, Bam, ba, ba, bop, bop, bam. She said, “Oh, that makes me think of a story!” And, out of the blue (or her own brilliant mind), she started writing about a war, the USA vs. Russian, and Walter and Penny are drummers. They’re watching the war and trying to decide which side they want to be on. 

Then next week, she came back with that spark in her eyes, and was ready to make music and write stories. She said she got stuck, so I played that little piece for her again. Her pencil started flying. I stopped and looked at her and asked, “Do you want to share what you’ve written, or should I play some more?” “Play more!” So, I took out a bluesy gospel piece. The pencil kept scratching. “Play another one.” I played Lorie Line’s arrangement of “Minuet in G.” She said, “That makes me think of Mickey Mouse and a chase scene.” She wrote down the song title on a new page, to get back to it later. Then, I played “Song of India” by Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakow. I told her how he wanted to be a composer, but his parents thought that was a waste of time so they signed him up for the Merchant Marines! This song has a wavy rolling movement in the left hand, and a haunting, longing melody in the right. I’m telling you, the creative energy in my music room was bursting out the windows and down the street! She wrote up until the time her mom walked in the door and said, “Aww,” when she saw her come in.

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Oh, the marvelous creations this instrument holds, ready to be released from its hammers, strings, pedals, and vibrations.

I continue to work on my next play Grace Notes: Piano Bench Confessions, and when I get stuck, I sit down to the piano. Not only does the music inspire me to write and generates ideas, the play itself is about Grandma Grace, the piano teacher, who’s whole life is remembered in song. 

So, Thank you, someone way back in the past who invented the piano. Thank you, Mom, for encouraging me to take piano lessons and to USE that gift. Thank you, God, for the music and inspiration, and Thank you, parents everywhere who provide private lessons for your kids and grandkids. You are giving them a gift that lasts a lifetime and gives them so much more than basic note reading.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt:  What gift are you most grateful for?

  1. It inspires you and now you can pass that joy on to others! I know how to play several instruments (sorry, not the piano) and music is an inspirational joy for me.

  2. That sounds like it was an excellent use of a half hour!!

  3. Mary, I can empathise!
    One of my piano students (a grade 8 learner) also loves writing. Now it seems like we don’t have enough time for the piano lesson, because she always has questions about writing…
    I bet you and I could trade lots of stories about ‘piano/writerly’ moments spent with our students? <3

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