I began learning piano when I was four years old. It started out as a sibling rivalry with my older brother.
“Why does he get to take lessons and I can’t?” I would exclaim as a child.
As I grew into adolescence, piano became more of a chore than it was a pleasure. However, my mother’s dream was to be able to play piano and she learned that dream through her two kids. My mother kept pushing us to learn and play in recitals. My brother quit when he was 14 and I kept going all the way up until I was 18 when I quit my private lessons. However, even without lessons, I still played and practiced.
As I grew up, music became more of my outlet. When I was feeling sad or when I just needed to express creativity, I would go to the piano and practice. It’s really one of the greatest gift my mother could have given me. Learning an instrument starting from nothing can lead to great challenges and frustrations but when you learn to play your first song, suddenly you feel the biggest accomplishment.
When I was about 16 years old, I wanted to learn how to play guitar. I was on a music learning streak with listening to Prince and hearing all these different kinds of music. Growing up, I only learned classical on piano so I did not even understand how much I could do more with piano so guitar was the new thing. I was terrible at the guitar. The first time I really played in front of anyone, they told me it sounds like I was scraping my fingernails against a chalkboard. I was holding the pick way too tight and strumming the strings way too hard. I don’t remember the frustration that came with learning piano when I was young so I thought “Well, learning guitar can’t be that hard” but it was.
When I turned 24, I decided that I really want to start piano again. I wanted someone that can teach me all kinds of music and not just classical. I wanted my musical horizon to expand. I found a piano instructor in Pleasanton, CA. His name was Ronald Graham. Outside his studio, he had newspaper hanging on the window recognizing his talents. Every time I would wake up at 8am on a Saturday morning dreading my lesson, my feelings will change as soon as I walked into the studio.
Part of enjoying music lessons is finding the right teacher. Ronald Graham was enthusiastic and energetic. He answered all questions and no question was ever too silly to ask. If you have a teacher that can keep you going despite at times, you do not even know if you want to play anymore, you got yourself a good teacher. Ronald Graham was the first to teach me how to play a twelve bars blues on the piano. He exposed me to just how much expression you can generate with music. Unfortunately, Ronald Graham passed away on May 22, 2011 to my great sadness.
Time really flies when you’re having fun. If you want an enchanting time during the summer, consider learning a musical instrument. Find yourself a teacher that suits you and inspires you. Find a teacher that plays and teaches the kind of music you like. I find that most people enjoy learning music once they get over their first obstacle of the first song. A talent such as playing a musical instrument is one of the greatest gift you can have in life and no one can take that away from you.