The power of C

I have never thought of myself as an adequate or even functional piano or keyboard player. Though I took some lessons when I was in middle school, and some in college that were required for any music major, I have remained ever-intimidated by the instrument and its complexity. I feel this way about most instruments (which possibly will be the subject of another post– specifically the learning process in relationship to the Suzuki Method), but the piano has always been something that frightens me.
Today, though, I had the privilege to play it on one of the floors of the hospital where I work. Because lunch time was very near, I chose to play in the halls of the floor as opposed to having 1:1 sessions with patients who may be preoccupied with eating. I improvised on the keyboard, starting in the key of C. I don’t think I give myself enough credit, musically, sometimes. I improvised for a while, and had two people come up to me to express that they liked what I was playing. (I promise I wasn’t playing loudly or being intrusive.) This is a new experience for me, given that I actively avoid the instrument, so have little opportunity to receive any feedback from anyone. What was happening with my playing was that I was relaxing into music, as opposed to obsessing about technique or theory. And by doing this, I was sharing more of myself with the people who were listening. From there I moved into playing in different keys and different styles– all things I can do easily on violin and with my voice, but definitely not things I thought I’d feel comfortable doing on keyboard. (Not that I’m magically functional now.) My surprise was in that I was able to find the music in the doing, the bigger picture, the point of the activity. Typically I see in front of me all the reasons I cannot play or do something, or I think that I shouldn’t even attempt to do it unless I am pretty certain I can be great at it. Sounds ludicrous, I know. But I am being honest.
Today I was able to pry open, slightly, a well-shut door, and I did it of my own volition. Maybe, if I practice doing this, I might actually practice playing the instrument so that I don’t have to feel terrified of it. We’ll see.
Thanks for reading.

One Reply to “The power of C”

  1. erin,

    your writing is DELICIOUS.

    i'm touched by each of your entries, but i'll start my comments on today's post.

    regarding piano:

    good for you for putting yourself out there! i'm reminded of a quote by SARK: "when we let ourselves be truly seen, then we can be truly loved." it's so true that if you hardly ever exercise a new skill, you won't be able to a) develop or b) receive any positive feedback/association with it.

    and that seems to apply for any person, with any skill in which they are lacking confidence or experience. you were able to USE the music intentionally, reaching beyond your own self-talk/self-image/self-limitations. that is beautiful and such a mark of your growth in internship.

    cheers to MANY more of those "hey! i was out of my own head!" moments. your presence is a gift, whether you're in conversation, in passing, in the room, or in a musical experience with someone.

    <3 what a great reminder. thanks for writing.


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