The captivating sounds that can be made by eighty-eight black and white keys were what started my love for playing the piano. Whether it be Chopin’s rubato or Schubert’s modulations, my fascination with the instrument has never gone away.
It all started with my mother and my first-grade music teacher, Mr. Manges. My mom grew up in a poor household and never had many opportunities. She had a goal of allowing her children to master an art, and I was immediately attracted to the piano. Mr. Manges soon became my first and only piano teacher. At first, I spent more time trying to plunk out the sheet music on our old piano than I did actually practicing the piano. I had the mindset that if I wanted to be good, I needed to perfect everything down to the way I would place my sheet music. Mr. Manges took notice and taught me that perfection comes by practice and cannot be forced.
Mr. Manges served as my piano mentor and to this day is still who I look up to when I am struggling with a piece of music. At any given time, I confidently know that he will provide me with the help I need when asked. His passion for the instrument caused me to aspire to become as skilled as he was. When I was younger, I found myself constantly comparing the way I played to how he would play. He taught me that I would never be content with my music until I started improving for myself and not others.
As I have grown older, playing the piano has become an escape for me. Whether I am concerned about an issue or just feeling blue, I seek out a piano. Playing the piano has become a way for me to transfer the negative emotions inside my head into music. When I play, everything becomes black and white just like the keys themselves. I could be anywhere, whether it be a mall, a friend’s house, or school. Sitting on the wooden bench and striking the chords would bring me home, even if I was as far from home as I could be. The ability to find comfort from a common item has immensely benefitted me.
The second I sit down on the bench, I give a slight smile. I realize that in the minute to come, I will be at peace and gleefully playing the piano. A feeling of tranquility washes over me as I decide what to play. I choose between improvising, learning a new song, or playing an old favorite by heart. Striking the chords furthers the idea that time is merely a construct. I can spend hours playing the piano with no realization that time is passing by. Lost in music is the only lost I find pleasure in. There have been several low points in my life where I have needed people who were not there for me. Moments like those were when the piano’s consolation aided me the most. It allowed me to get lost from the real world and into a world where I felt myself.
Playing piano has allowed me to notice parts of myself that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. It has allowed me to express my individuality and taught me that meticulous practice reaps the rewards of patience and a strong work ethic. Mastering the piano has been the biggest element of who I am today-there is no doubt about it. If I am ever feeling down and want to get lost, I know that all I have to do is say hello to the childhood friend who is merely at my fingertips. The piano has allowed me to find beauty in a world where ugly things are constantly happening.