A melody, a symphony or maybe just a note. I like to think we have a constant stream of music within us. The sounds can change by the minute. Sometimes soft and soothing and at other times crashing like the waves amidst a storm.
I began piano lessons at about age ten. Playing by ear was never my thing and I was being classically trained. It seemed that others around me had more faith in my abilities than I did. At about age 12 I was asked to play the organ at church on Wednesday evenings. I reluctantly agreed and gave a list of the 12 hymns I knew how to play.
Each week I was asked to play only one of the hymns from my list and two additional hymns I had never played before. The first time this happened I was really upset. I thought “didn’t he read the note I gave him? Doesn’t he understand I do not know how to play these other songs?” However, by Wednesday evening everything would go smoothly and I would play just fine.
It literally took years for me to realize what was happening. Other people did not see the walls I had created for myself, limiting my musical abilities. How often do we convince ourselves we simply do not have the talents or skills to do something?
My junior year of high school I was asked to be the accompanist of the show choir. After agreeing, the teacher informed me I had to read music on the spot. I told her I needed three days to learn each piece.
Three days was not an option for her. In my mind I knew I could not read the music instantly. I had a wall up that had no choice but to come down. The teacher was patient with me to an extent and I spent hours each night practicing the music, each day being able to sight read music more quickly. By the end of the year our show choir received all gold medals in our competition and I received a gold medal for individual piano competition.
Those experiences have had such an impact on me that it comes to mind when I teach math or other things. It’s so easy to see students or individuals have a mental block up. They have a sad melody going on with the belief they simply can’t do better or advance further. When we are given the opportunity to change someone’s tune, it’s a really awesome thing.
After all these years of playing classical music and only being able to play by reading music, I had a truly life changing experience two weeks ago. I was introduced to a local pianist who doesn’t read music but simply plays and writes incredibly beautiful music. He has quite a few cd’s out and gave me one to sample. That night as I was listening to his music while working, out of nowhere the thought came “You can do that too. You can play like that.”
What? It’s not possible. Some people have the gift of playing by ear and some have the gift of reading music easily. I heeded the voice within and walked over to my piano. I looked at the keys and told myself “You CAN do this.”
My fingers began moving seamlessly across the keys like a gentle breeze. My eyes closed. I felt like a different person. An hour later I finished my song and was in complete awe. God knew all along that my song within could be expressed audibly and that He gave me the ability to do so. I was the only one preventing my song from being heard.
For the last two weeks I have spent hours a day letting my songs come out, be it excited or mellow, frustrated or happy. No matter what I feel inside, my music can now come out through my fingers onto the ivory and ebony. Part of me is still in awe. The other part asks why did I limit myself for all these years?