Staffer finds joy playing piano

The past 10 years of my life I have trained my fingers to remember specific melodies and their exact placement on a keyboard of 88 different keys. The piano is an integral part of my daily life.

There are certain days burned into everyone’s memory; something that leaves a mark on them they will never forget. The day our hand-me-down Baldwin piano was moved into the house is one of my fondest memories. My walking pace from the bus stop soon turned into a sprint home when I saw a U-Haul in my driveway. I pounded away “Mary Had a Little Lamb” as soon as my mother let me near the piano, a new toy I was determined to learn to play.

My piano training has taken me to a few different teachers over the years. I acquired a variety of different skills and lessons from each teacher. The last stop on my journey took me to a teacher named Jinel Nettleton whose whole goal was to train her students to be a skilled enough pianist that they could potentially pass on their talents and knowledge to others by becoming a teacher themselves. Initially I only took piano lessons for myself and my own progression but as time went on, I discovered a superior motive. I can still hear Jinel’s voice at the back of my mind telling me the world needs more piano teachers.

It sure is funny how things work out because I now have six students that I teach once a week, four lessons a month. I feel such an immense depth of gratitude toward Jinel because becoming a teacher was one of the best things that ever happened to me. At a younger age than most I feel I have found a job that I can pursue my entire life and never get tired of, a job where I would never have to work a day in my life. It gives me a sense of purpose in the world. Just knowing I made some kind of mark in someone’s life by passing my skills onto them, fills my heart with an indescribable joy.

I remember well the day my five-year-old student Nathan learned a song that came along with an accompaniment part for me to play along with him. After practicing a few times, his excitement drew him to run to the car to grab his mom so she could come listen. I counted out four beats before the first measure of the beginning of the song and I saw his little hands start to shake and become sweaty from his nerves. He was so afraid of messing up and disappointing his mother who stood proudly beside us on the bench. But by the end of the song, his smile was so wide and I looked over to find tears in his mother’s eyes. She wrapped her son in a heart-warming hug while she told him how proud she was of him. That was a moment I will never forget.

Learning to play the piano has opened doors and provided numerous opportunities for me in more ways than one. I play in church every Sunday and when the occasional baptism comes along, I play then too. I honestly cannot imagine my life without music or an instrument like the piano.

I would highly encourage anyone and everyone to learn to play an instrument. It will open doors for you and bring opportunities to the table that you never even imagined. Even if it is something as common as the guitar, you will not regret it if you go in with the right mind frame and a positive attitude. It is hard work but the best kind of work.

The upright, Baldwin piano that sits in my living room is not just an instrument. That piano provides an escape for me when just breathing is all I am able to do on a hard day. That piano acts as a friend I can vent to because sometimes, telling a story through melodies and written music is more comforting than using actual words.