The Joy and Solace of the Piano

My mom started teaching me on the piano when I was five.  I had a few different teachers after that, eventually landing with a professional teacher who had me enter competitions.  Other than egging the house of a girl that dumped me [mom didn't know about that...sorry mom], the most rebellious thing I did as a teenager was refuse to practice extensively.  I know, I was a real rebel.  

After I stopped taking lessons and went off to college I barely played.  But then I finally got the bug again, practicing some Mozart and Chopin.  Chopin was one of my favorites, with his blazing Waltzes and powerful Polonaises.  It didn't hurt that he was Polish too.  I knew though that my passion for playing the piano wouldn't really stick unless I figured out how to play music by ear.  

At first, it was challenging to figure out songs.  But then, it all started to click, once I understood the common chord progressions of songs and how to figure out very quickly what key a song was in.  It's a very gratifying thing when you figure out that you can listen to a song and almost instantly play it.  Journalist and Science writer Malcolm Gladwell says that you need 10,000 hours of deliberate practice at anything to become "world-class" at it.  I imagine I crossed that barrier at some point, as I get frustrated when I can't figure out a song now.  Yes, that still happens.

I'm very excited to be giving my first piano lessons starting this Sunday.  When you find real joy and solace in playing an instrument, it's natural to want others to enjoy listening to you and to share your talent with others.  Although I listen to heavier music too, not long ago I discovered Icelandic composer Olafur Arnalds.  Here's my favorite song of his to play on the piano: 

Ashley and I are going to see him in Chicago in June at the tail end of our trip to Poland and Germany and it's going to be a perfect end to our travels.  

I'm very excited to be giving my first piano lessons starting this Sunday.  When you find real joy and solace in playing an instrument, it's natural to want people to enjoy listening to you, to share your talent with others and to want to pass that on to others.  I wish my mom was still around to hear me play, but I'm very grateful that I have the opportunity to help others learn the piano and hopefully they'll share their gift too. 

Here's a live performance by Olafur.  I typically start watching at the 4:30 mark or so.  I hope you enjoy it too.