Piano For Moms

Piano Lessons Let Mom Just Play

-reprinted from the Orange County Register, January 31, 2007

Jenny Sokol

Columnist, The Orange County Register

I remember my first piano recital very clearly. That evening, the lights were dim, the crowd attentive. Tentatively, I pressed and held each key. Jin. (Pause) Gle. (Pause) Bells. (Pause) Nearing the conclusion of the song, my audience raised their voices in song: "In. A. One. Horse. Oooooopen. Sleigh!"

The memory is vivid because my first recital took place last month in my living room in front of my husband and children. I played only one song and my performance was mediocre at best. But I have some exciting news: It's OK to be mediocre!

Why would a busy mom sign up for piano lessons? No, my job was to get my daughter to her piano practice on time. To make sure she practiced at home 15 minutes a day.

A deep desire ignited inside me when I watched my daughter's first lesson. I wanted to be the one sitting at the keyboard. In those first weeks, I perused her workbook. I fiddled with the keys on our piano when no one was listening. After her lessons, I badgered her to teach me what she'd learned until, one day, she looked at me with all the attitude a 5-year-old can muster and said, "Why don't you just take lessons yourself, Mom?"

I seethed. The nerve of that child, withholding information. I stewed. I called to schedule my first lesson.

George Bernard Shaw once said, "Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children." Think about it: Kids are encouraged to learn or play a new sport every season. Take art classes or bang on drums in music class.

It wasn't a bit fair. I realized that I'd simply grow old if I stopped learning, so I added one more youth to the roster at the Sokol household.

Four months into piano lessons and I now know what those doohickeys next to the text in the hymnals mean. They are notes and I can actually read some of them. When I'm pounding those ebonies and ivories, I feel the same satisfaction I felt when I butchered "Mary Had A Little Lamb" on my recorder in the fourth grade.

Without a doubt, I have no ear for music. I have no talent and no potential and that is precisely what is so fabulous about my new hobby.

I don't have to compete. I don't need to be fantastic so I can get into college or land a great job. I don't have to know how long this interest will last or where it will lead me. To some, this endeavor may be called a money drain; I call it pure joy.

My version of "Jingle Bells" is possibly the most exquisite interpretation I've ever heard and I daresay my kids would agree.

Now that calls for an encore.

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