Saturday, March 06, 2021
Like almost every little girl in the 50s and 60s, I took piano lessons: starting at age six! Walking myself to my music teacher's home, several blocks away, in the early mornings before school for my lessons: a scary proposition in itself, with everybody's dog out unleashed. My goodness, learning the piano involved a lot of discipline and efforting and practice and considerable sternness and performances in stiff crinolined dresses and examinations with results published in the local paper . . . not entirely a pleasant process. Eventually, when I was 12 years old, I got my grade 8 conservatory piano and grade 2 theory, which was then a graduating high school credit. My parents thought it was best I have a credit "in reserve" before I started in case I found high school academics too difficult and was in danger of not graduating . . .
Well, I did eventually recover my love of playing the piano and for many years owned an old upright, playing for the pleasure of our own little kids. That piano, impossible to tune, has been gone for many years now, however . . . and probably my hands are too arthritic to be able to play now. Now I am enjoying the opportunity of listening to music in the evenings and for sure all that early musical training affected my ability to appreciate not only music but the other art forms that evolved in the same eras.
However: those piano lessons and scary exams and enforced performances could so easily have turned me off all things musical and all things aesthetic for life!!
So what a pleasure it was last evening to be invited to participate by ZOOM in the piano concert of a former Ontario neighbour -- the nine year old girl who'd made Henry her special friend. The whole focus of her piano lessons is on composition. Each child had written his or her own original composition and performed it, with obvious poise and confidence and pleasure to richly deserved applause.
Our little neighbour was dressed up glamorously in multiple pearl necklaces and earrings for her "Night in New York City" piece, played with verve and emotion! Henry, sitting on a chair between the two of us, watched intently on the laptop: he clearly recognized her and was very interested indeed to see what melodious sounds she could make!
Such a different approach. Such different results. These children were developing musical expertise because they were directing their time and attention towards something that clearly gave each of them pleasure. They had skill; in some cases, quite remarkable skill for such young children. And they clearly understood something about musical composition from the inside out.
It was quite wonderful to hear.