This is the story of my experiences in music through my piano classes:
When me and my sister were six years old, my dad bought a digital piano and placed it into the empty corner of our living room. It was a Roland brand. It was the first time I saw a physical piano, but over the years, I have come to love the fact that I could create music, and shower my parents with gratitude for this life-changing experience. I think I would have failed to complete assignments about myself; for example, leadership, without it. That digital piano was the beginning of my journey through music.
I got my first piano teacher soon afterwards, and she was quite strict. Nowadays, I feel slightly guilty because I had trouble understanding music terms, as English is my second language. She must’ve been frustrated. I don’t really remember this, but apparently my dad had to sit through the classes with us, and continue to teach us over and over again because we just didn’t understand it. He retaught, referencing from the teacher’s notes, on how to read the notes, drawing the swirling treble clefs, and bass clefs, and pointing out what we did wrong. However, my dad is not a piano teacher; he got frustrated with us many times. In the present day, he has forgotten what he has learned, and the little chicks he brought up have jumped off the branch and are continuing to fly without assistance.
I remember one time, both me and my sister had memorized a melody, and could play it with our eyes closed. Of course, now that I look back on it, it wasn’t a very hard song; it was a beginners’ song. But I could not help but be proud of myself, when my dad smiled and told me to show the teacher. In a child’s perspective, my first teacher seemed very conservative. We continued with her for a year, and when we moved houses, our close aunt recommended a new teacher to us.
I call her by her first name; Mrs. Lisa. She has taught us for the past almost ten years, and still continues to teach us to this day. She is quite different than my first teacher; bright, colourful, and vivid. She used to be an elementary school teacher, but changed to teaching piano.
Over the years, I have played in her flamboyant concerts, prepared for my exams – which is the most scariest and stressful thing in the world – and gained much knowledge of the musical world. However, there is still a long ways away until I reach the level I want to be in. On YouTube, sometimes I watch child prodigies play Beethoven and Mozart pieces and it makes my self confidence drop back to zero. However, I will continue to move along slowly, but steadily, like the turtle in the race.
Sometimes I feel incompetent, weak, and desperate to catch up with the other, more amazing, naturally-talented people, and other times, I feel powerful, and in control of the piano, weaving the notes in and out of the musical score.
When people ask me what music I listen to, I reply with “instrumental”. I don’t think it as embarrassing because it’s different from what most people listen to but, if you listen to orchestras or instrument covers, you can discover that it is a beautiful and abstract sound, and it can be created from the heart; not with technology.
When my sister and I reached grade 6 piano, our teacher recommended us to get a grand piano since the keys are harder to press and can make better sound than the digital one. It was also because in exams, we had to play on a grand piano. As a result, my dad got us a baby grand piano; it is the Hailun Japanese brand, and I consider it one of my treasures.
In the present day, piano – and music in general – are part of who I am today; and has become an irreplaceable space inside my heart, and it has taught many things like perseverance, patience, determination, and the fact that hard work can pull through. After all, Royal Conservatory’s slogan is “The finest instrument is the mind”.