45 Things I Learned... 35

Saturday, February 18, 2023

I was maybe 5 or 6 when mom got us a private tutor to teach us to play the piano. I enjoyed the lessons. My brother not so much. He was very gifted and could replay a tune after just hearing it. But he didn't care much about the theory. And often "forgot" to do the required homework. I, on the other hand, relished so much on this noble language that I would practice more seriously. And even accepted to play on stage at the school end-of-year spectacle... I abhorred the mandatory curtsy at the end when the public, in other words, our parents and families, clapped vigorously. But those moments when everyone was silent and I got to play a piece I had rehearsed for several weeks on the black grand piano, those minutes spent in an intimate and simple connection of my soul with the melody, that time was honestly precious!

I always had a special tie to music. When I was still a baby, I gave mom a hard time because I would cry to remain awake. Yes, I didn't like sleep much and I have been working on changing that in the past few years. To bed me down, my mother started by humming some lullabies to my ears. Only to discover after a few weeks that I had "understood" her scheme, and would scream my lungs out to avoid dozing off. And so intuitively, mom went from humming lullabies to playing some classic music to me. This seemed to calm me and I would snooze, as long as my mind didn't make the thread of the game. The trick didn't work for long. Usually, 2 weeks, 3 at the tops. So she had to switch tunes again and again. When I would realize that the playing melody was intended for me to rest with my eyes closed and since I didn't -and still don't- like to be "forced" to do something, I did the necessary to express my irritation to my mom's dismay. But that woman is tenacious I tell you!

When I moved to Germany as a teenager, I was almost 13 years old. I had been playing the piano almost every day at home for years now. I didn't have that luxury there. I had a whole new social life to adapt to. Other activities to learn and practice. Not that I minded. I just missed playing music instead of just listening to it. Because no matter where I went and where I will go, music is an integral part of my life. I don't sing in the shower. I rarely did. But I used to take my small portable radio in with me. Back then we didn't have mobile phones that could play our favorite lists. We curated our favorite songs and had them recorded on a cassette. A few later, I started buying CDs. But when I was back at my parents for a visit, I played some old vinyl records. The old piano was transferred to another home and hasn't been uncovered for more than 30 years now...

Some quotes about music:

Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything - Plato

Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife - Gibran Khalil Gibran

Where words leave off, music begins - Heinrich Heine

Music is an addiction - Miles Davis

Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music - Sergei Rachmaninov

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music - Aldous Huxley

The true beauty of music is that it connects people - Roy Ayers

At my brother's wedding, while we were waiting for the newlyweds to join the party, I walked around a little and discovered that marvelous white grand piano. But there was no one playing it or around it. People were in small groups, chit-chatting here and there. I'm not much of a small-talk person. So I opened the lid, sat myself, and played. For the first time in almost 3 decades. At first, I was nervous. Then my fingers remembered which keys to press. I was so focused on recalling that piece I had last played on stage at school, that I wasn't aware that some people started peaking in and listening. When I did, I turned tomato-red in the face, and just wanted to disappear. That was my sister's queue to ask me to smile and she shot that picture of me. After which, I quickly stood up, and moved away to check on my parents... but, boy, did playing music made me feel good! I think that was one of the times when I told myself I needed to get playing music again. And very soon...

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