Music in our Home

August 11, 2011
posted by Tia in Learning, Loving

I have this 20-year-old memory of my mother which I found recently, tucked away in a far and dusty corner of my brain. I remember hearing her play the piano.

Us kids were already in bed and the house was pretty quiet. I can’t remember whether I was lying in bed or whether I was staying up late to read or write (most likely the latter). I just remember that everybody was in bed, and in the stillness of the house upstairs, my mother was playing hymns on the piano.

I remember picturing her up there, sitting on the bench, playing. It isn’t my only memory of her playing, but it’s one of a very few. She knew the piano well enough that she could play church music, but I think that was about it. I wonder now why she was playing on that particular night. Had it been a really good day? Or a particularly difficult one?

I loved the piano, and I wanted to be able to play it so badly when I was young. I don’t remember if that desire started at that particular moment, or if this only fueled a fire that was already burning. But one thing is for sure: my desire to play the piano, and my love of beautiful (and especially religious) music, is bound up tightly with this memory of my mother playing.

I begged my mom to teach me to play. She taught me to play in the treble clef with my right hand, and to play basic chords to accompany the melody with my left. When I was nine, my sweet grandmother offered to pay for me to have piano lessons in exchange for my help in cleaning her house. I gleefully accepted, and began what turned into three years of lessons before my family moved to another state. I didn’t love my teacher or her methods; I hated being asked to play scales; and I always felt like the music we worked on was much more basic than what I wanted to be learning. But I loved playing the piano, and nothing ever dampened that.

Fast-forward about five years. I’m off to college. After self-teaching myself on the piano for a few years I’d had an additional year of music lessons with a wonderful teacher before I left home. But now I had moved again, and the curriculum at the school I was attending didn’t include any type of music.

The best it seemed that I could do was to join the Institute Choir. Since I loved singing next best to playing the piano, this worked out just right. In more ways than one! Turns out my future husband was in that choir, singing tenor as I belted out my best soprano.

Fast-forward a few more years to married life with kids. Music, we’ve decided, is important to us, and we want it in our home. Neither of us are overly talented—perhaps about average and with rusty skills—but that doesn’t matter. You don’t have to be talented to pass on a love of music.

As our kids started getting older (the put-him-in-lessons-now-in-case-he-is-a-prodigy age), we began to wonder what to do. We knew families that had been very successful in giving their children consistent musical training from a very young age. After looking into it, it just didn’t seem right for us. Both of us had picked up music of our own initiative, and were content to have it be that way for our children. Our most important job, we’ve now decided, is to inspire them.

How? Well, that’s when I began to remember that night that I listened to my mother playing. The memory is so sweet and moving that it often brings tears to my eyes. If I could be that inspired from hearing my mother, just that once, then all I need to do is to play and sing music. This isn’t too hard for me, as I have a piano always standing at the ready, calling to me. Also, since we’ve had children I’ve consistently had a music calling of one sort or another at our church. James finally took the plunge and decided that, decade old skills or not, he was going to pull out the old trumpet and join the community band. And then the orchestra. He’s only third trumpet, but he’s playing. And he loves it.

And the kids see it. And hear it. And love it. They know that music is beautiful, and that it is an important part of their home and their parents’ lives. And for now, that’s all that they need to know to get them started on a life-long love of music.

Thanks, Mom. I hope the beautiful notes you played in that moment of musical inspiration will continue to resonate throughout generations.

What is something that you have been inspired to pass on to posterity?

One Comment

One response to “Music in our Home”

  1. arianne says:

    Love this post and your memories. We’ve been really missing you guys. Wish you were here in Samoa with us. We coul have some great school days at the beach. Sorry I haven’t kept in better touch. My internet time is so short.

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