It appeared one day in our living room. A brand new black Yamaha piano with pristine white keys and a beautiful sound.
I didn’t know it was going to be my enemy for more than a decade.
I was four when my piano lessons began. I had no interest in playing music. I wanted to be a sorceress with the power to move mountains. I wanted to be out there slaying dragons, shooting fireballs from my palms and defending the realm with my trusty two-year-old brother in tow.
Yet there I was every week learning how to play the piano. Plink, plonk, plink went the keys when I dutifully pressed them. It was eating into my “running around saving the world” time. And I must have been resentful.
“Why are you still playing from this book?” my mother once asked. “Your friend next door is already on the next level.”
I didn’t know why I wasn’t improving like my neighbourhood friend. Maybe it was because I didn’t practise. Maybe it was because I felt stupid every time I did practise.
The notes were too difficult. I couldn’t understand the rhythm between my left and right hand. And I couldn’t stand the frustration of working out the notes, especially when it made me feel like I was failing.
The piano was there to tell me I wasn’t good enough. It was there to tell me other kids were better and faster at mastering it. And that I was too stupid to play it properly.
I despised playing our beautiful black Yamaha piano with the perfect sound and the perfect keys.
My parents finally accepted this fact when I became old enough to vote. I was allowed to quit it when I turned 18 years old.
I think I was in primary school when I had the opportunity to play something other than the piano.
I loved the flute. I adored everything about it. The light sound it made. The way the music was in one clef and easy to read. The way it made me feel when I heard the melody.
I thought I had a chance to learn it in Grade Five. The orchestra was looking for more people to join and I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to start a new instrument.
I ran to my parents after school.
“Mum! Dad! The orchestra is looking for more people to join!”
They knew. They had been speaking to the music teacher and knew just the thing I should play.
“It’s the harp!” they said. “Isn’t it great? It is just like the piano but you pluck the strings instead.”