When I was 7, the building where I took after-school art classes had a piano class next door, so I often heard the music serenading me through the wall.
One time my art teacher was late, so the piano teacher invited me into their class and taught me the beginner song “Hot Cross Buns.” When I placed my fingers on the keys, they felt smooth, and I became amazed at how this giant instrument could produce such soothing tunes and was mine to control. I felt both comforted and empowered.
But after that magical day, I didn’t touch the instrument again until many years later. I thought about playing more, but was hesitant. I knew piano was a difficult instrument to master.
Falling in Love
Toward the end of 7th grade, my mother and I passed by a piano studio on our way home from grocery shopping. I mustered up my courage and said, “Would it be weird if I started taking piano lessons now? I’m too old, right?” Looking for excuses, I added, “I don’t think my fingers are that agile anymore.”
We went inside and my mother signed me up for eight lessons at the store to start. It felt like she was nudging me toward taking a chance I had been too afraid to try before. And within moments of my first lesson, gently running my hands along the ivory keys gave me the same joy I had the first time I played when I was younger.
At first, all I wanted was to master the opening of an anime theme song called “Fairy Tail,” which I played on repeat on YouTube.
That didn’t come so easily. Early on in my lessons, I had doubts. I usually liked to take the easy way out, doing the bare minimum. I stopped taking art classes pretty early, and quit both ballet and Chinese lessons after only a few months. I took flute lessons in school but eventually quit that too. Would I stick with this?
It was hard to control my two hands and teach them to function separately. But unlike with other endeavors, I liked the challenge, and this further motivated me to practice and establish a new rhythm with my hands. Plus, I could already read music from playing the flute.
Over the next couple of months, the more I learned and mastered, the deeper I fell in love with piano. Eventually, my mom bought me a beautiful black Yamaha.
Sticking With It
I was excited to come home from school and play for hours. My mom had to call from the kitchen, “Merry, it’s time for dinner!” Only then did I stop playing, carefully and slowly placing away the music sheet, and closing the lid of the piano. I’d then hop to the kitchen.
“I see you’re not bored of piano yet,” my mom said one day.
“Haha, yeah I don’t think I will be; you should be prepared with your wallet.” My mother laughed at that.
“As long as you continue loving it,” my mother replied. She was glad to see that I had found something I truly enjoyed.
I was glad that my mom’s support wouldn’t be in vain considering how pricey the instrument and lessons were. She never said anything, but I felt like my mom’s actions showed she was happy I had committed to something. She bought me any music books I needed, and every few weeks asked me to play for her.
Playing piano has made me more committed and I feel more mature. Furthermore, it has been a sort of validation for myself that I didn’t know I needed—the validation that I am not a quitter.
At school, the part of the day my friends and I look forward to the most is whenever the timer on my teacher’s phone rings during theater practice, signaling it’s time for our 15-minute break. We usually stay behind and play or sing any songs we like.
Recently, I ran over to the piano before anyone else could and played the “Fairy Tail” opening theme. In the middle of the song, I looked up, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. I did too. I continued playing.