Being the youngest of three kids has given me what my friends joke is a ‘sibling complex’. To be fair, sometimes it might be well deserved. When someone asks how I got into reading, my reply is instantly that it’s because of my sister. If they ask how I got so into Percy Jackson, I reply offhandedly that it’s due to my brother. The cycle continues, and unfortunately, it becomes especially emphasized when the classic icebreaker question of musical talents pops up.
My journey into piano started when I was four years old and I begged my mom to let me take classes with my sister’s teacher. The details aren’t crystal clear, but whenever I ask about it, my mom rambles on how I constantly pestered her until she would let me. My sister’s teacher at the time, probably aware of the pestering, was a little wary of starting with someone so young, but agreed to give it a trial run.
Predictably, the trial run turned into weekly piano lessons every Saturday an hour before my sister. Unforeseeably, I was enamored by it. Everyday, like clockwork, I would sit down and practice all the pieces in my Faber: Piano Adventures book for hours at a time.
My parents were astounded by my dedication to it, and the level of their astonishment probably increased when I started 1st grade and I abruptly stopped manically practicing every night. The passion I had for the instrument somehow significantly decreased. Instead, my mind was stolen away by tales of fairies, magic, and princesses. Piano simply could not compete with the wonders of Kirsty and Rachel’s daily adventures of fighting against Jack Frost.
Piano had been starting to feel more of a chore than a fun activity. Afterall, why read about musical theory when I could read about Barbie’s adventures in Mermaidia? Playing music seemed like a dim escape from the world compared to the intricate plots I navigated through in my books.
However, no matter what my feelings on the instrument had turned into, I reluctantly set the two hours aside before my piano class to practice. It continued like this for the next six years. Every year, my piano teacher would hand me a diagram saying I needed to practice my new and increased age-assigned number of minutes per week, and I would solemnly nod at her while sticking to my allocated ninety minutes. To me, piano was something that was unconditional. It was something I never had to choose, so I never put more effort in than I had to.
Consequently, last summer piano stopped being unconditional as my teacher abruptly stopped teaching classes. It didn’t bother me at first, and I just took it as an extra prolonged break while I kept delaying finding a new teacher. I started replacing the classical music part of my life with listening to more music on Spotify (mainly Taylor Swift), which led the dusty fallboard of my piano to stay firmly shut for longer than anticipated.
However, as more months went by without me touching the piano, I found myself slightly wistful for the feeling I got whenever my fingers would slide over silky keys. I missed learning how to play beautiful new melodies, and I especially mourned the satisfaction I used to receive when a piece I thought was clunky and awful somehow magically became something electric and alluring the fourth or fifth time I practiced it. Even if I didn’t have an immense passion for piano, it was something stable I could always count on to destress.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about piano a lot more because my birthday passed last month, and my best friend proudly shoved a book of folklore piano sheet music into my hands. Playing the album on piano was a goal I set for myself when the album first released, and getting the book relit that connection. It led me down the rabbit hole of my journey through piano and brought me to heavily consider and appreciate the role it has had in my life throughout the years.
So now, when I sit down to try to practice playing ‘my tears ricochet’, I feel grateful that the four-year-old version of me pestered my mom to let me play piano which gave me the ability to have a little look into the world of music. It might not mean the world to me, it still means a lot. And, I guess while we’re at it, I’m even a little grateful for my so-called ‘sibling complex’ that led me to it.