The piano is one of those instruments whose notes speak to the heart of the player as well as the listeners. Its subtle dings are more than enough to help everyone realize the beauty of the instrument and its versatility.
However, besides the musical journey, it is the change that is worthwhile – a change in the personality of the player, in his aspirations and motivations, and in the fabrics of his ‘self’.
This is something which I realized after listening to the story of Imelda, a 27-year old business professional who has been playing piano for nearly 8 years.
We were talking about the usual things when the topic of Piano swept across the aura surrounding us and entered into our discussion. As soon as the word piano was uttered by her, I could see a gleaming array of excited gratitude running rampant across her eyes. Her face beamed with adulation and happiness as if the name gave her some kind of power all too eternal in nature.
She told me that after passing each and every level of her music school for amateur, she embarked on a journey that only a few people experience in their lives. I asked her what was so important about her talent as a pianist. She took a deep breath and with a vibrant smile she said,
“Piano has made and is making my world. For me, playing the piano is like breathing in a garden of roses and jasmines. With every breath, you take in more scents and everything seem to take a course on their own – a course towards the betterment of self.”
I tried to contemplate it, but I didn’t ask for explanations as she started on her own. Following are some of the things that I concluded from my discussion with her.
1. Everything is achievable. All it requires is an unflinching effort
In Imelda’s words,
“Learning piano for me is like hiking on Mount Everest. It isn’t easy at all. I still remember all the frustrations that I face sometimes and all the hours of skipping my favorite shows for playing. Sometimes, I just give up the practice because I have a problem with hitting two keys at the same time with my pinky finger. But I don’t give up. I practice for hours trying to hit only one key at a time. I know it would take time, but I also know that I am improving bit by bit. It’s teaching me a lesson, more than anything, and that is everything is achievable.”
2. The focus is paramount to success
“Playing piano requires an enormous amount of focus. I am the kind of a person who wanders a lot in her thoughts, mainly because of the frequent panic attacks I get sometimes. I get nervous a lot. But as I am advancing in the piano learning process, it is becoming easy for me to concentrate on one thing. Without even knowing it, I’ve started to develop great focus and I’ve realized that I am not really prone to distraction. It is just my nervousness that has to be eradicated. The piano is helping me in that.”
3. An emotional outlet is necessary
After a series of sheepish giggles, Imelda said, “I use to get dumped a lot. It is my fate, I think, and this is why I avoid relationships at all cost. But everything goes in vain once somebody proposes me.”
“As they say, you have to be more than just pretty to retain someone. I simply wasn’t, initially, and that really contributed to my panic attacks. Now that I have found solace in letting out the accumulated steam inside me through the chimney of the notes played on the piano, I sense my emotions ooze out because the tune or note actually represents what I feel. It is almost as if the music binds to my soul and help vaporizes all the bad feelings.”
4. Details do matter
“There are always subtle details in every moment that go unnoticed but leave a greater impact on our lives. It is these details that let us focus on a task and this is particularly where the piano is helping me. The composer guides contain minute instructions that are vital to the music produced. For example, not accenting on a note simply ruins the whole thing. Or, not paying attention to crescendo or decrescendo are always expensive. Little did I know that by following this guide, I’d let my life be set on details and that these details would define my life ahead.”
The discussion that we had lasted half an hour and in that time I understood how a piano can change a life of a pianist. It is through Imelda that I finally grasped the abstract connection between a human and an instrument. It also seemed to me after the discussion that Imelda did find the best in her after being an avid pianist. That was her story. How do you think the piano has changed you?