I’ve decided to further my education in piano. It pertains to my work as a voice teacher and choir director, and I just want to get better for the fun of it. There are many good teachers in town. The pianist I work with at church is fantastic but she is beyond capacity, and I didn’t mind the idea of taking piano lessons from another one of my music colleagues.
She’s a rather young lady, 28 or so, and I’ve worked with her as a colleague on and off since 2011. In fact, we’re working on a recital together…sort of. We both live busy lives. But she had enough room in her studio for me, and she agreed that it sounded like fun.
She asked me to prepare something to play for her on the first lesson. I pulled out my big book of classical piano filled with pieces that easily knock me down and wipe the floor with my thinning hair. But there was one piece that I could at least play parts of: Mozart’s Fantasy in D Minor. I’m not a huge fan of Mozart (gasp!), but there is something about his minor keys that I find really compelling. So I worked it up. However, because I’m also not a fan of the emotionally constrained temperament of the Classical Era, I turned it into Chopin which is from the Romantic. Plenty of rubato and such. I knew that this would be frowned upon, but I somehow got the notion that this would give her the opportunity for a teachable moment with me right off the bat. Something to pull the band aid off should there be any unease about her being in a master-student relationship with a middle-aged man. A silly idea to be sure, but I try to spend a little bit of time everyday with a silly idea.
Driving to the studio I got lost, and have every time since, but fortunately I had given myself plenty of time. I walked from my car to a door that had an arrow pointing left that said “Use other door”. When I found the other door, it also said “Use the other door”. And when I found the other other door, I could see the waiting room through the glass.
I entered with my big book of humiliatingly difficult music, and looked around a bit. I walked down the hall. I’d been there before to practice for the recital, but it is very much a maze.
One time, when I came to rehearse with her on the recital, I walked in on the end of a lesson with a young east Indian child. I gave her a stern look and said, “Did you practice?”
She did not turn her head to look at me, rather, she slanted her eyes at me and then back at the teacher who laughed and gave her the same mock stern look and asked, “Well? Did you?” The child said, humorlessly, “Yes.”
Later, my friend said “I had never seen that girl throw shade at anybody, but she did at you!” I had to look up “throw shade” in the Urban Dictionary.
When I did find her room, I could hear her working with a student, so I went back to the waiting room and sat down. There was a small child playing with some sort of toy I cannot recall on the floor. There was a girl with straight blond hair with barrettes sitting at the edge of her chair with her music in her hands. She was rocking, perhaps anxiously, with her ankles crossed. The rest of the people were all mommies….and then there was me, also rocking anxiously a bit with my music.
I felt like Ross in the tv show “Friends” when he waits to see his doctor, who is actually a pediatrician. He pretends to be a dad so that one of the pretty mommies wouldn’t know the truth, that he’s a full grown adult male at a kiddie doctor’s office. Then the nurse calls his name and the jig is up…he strikes out. I sloughed off an impulse to feel embarrassed. Soon my teacher entered with a young student and she gave her some final practice instructions. When she was done, she looked my way and laughed a little bit perhaps at the absurdity of the scene. Then she straightened up and tried to hold a serious face, but she could only hold it for a couple of seconds.
She led me back and we chatted as we walked.
The lesson was a good. I believe that she is excellent teacher, and I’m learning much from her. Proprietary stuff. No need to get into the details. There are some things in life that aren’t really stories at all. Sometimes I’ll tell what I think is a story, and then it just ends up being a log of me going to the gas station and saving 15 cents on gas. That’s not a story, and neither is learning how to play a two octave scale with both hands together.