My Parent's Gift of Music
Growing up I always heard my sister Sue playing the piano along with a host of other instruments. Her innate talent for music always fascinated me. I told my parents I wanted to learn how to play the piano. At the age of eight I began taking piano lessons.
As a child I had no idea the impact the gift of music my parent gave would have on my life or the outlet it would provide for me to express myself. It was just something fun to do. I was so blessed to have been taught by some great people. Of all of my teachers two stand out in my mind the most. The first of which is Lynne Moden.
Mrs. Moden had an infectious passion for the piano. She could make even the most boring music entertaining. Most importantly she taught me to listen to what the student is expressing in both their music and with their words. She paid so much attention to what I liked playing she could harnessed that to challenge me in my learning. She also knew what I did not enjoy playing. There were times when it was important for me to play pieces I was not fond of. Knowing this she always took the time to explain to me why it was important to spend some time learning a particular piece of music. Her ability to gain my buy-in was uncanny. I can still see her now in her suits as I came in for lessons, her gigantic smile on her face and a voice bursting with exuberance and joy.
The second music teacher who, in all honesty, had the greatest impact on me was my high school chorus teacher Nancy Kennedy. I have to say Nancy has the patience of a saint. In many ways I was not your normal teenager and in others I was the typical teenager. How she dealt with some of the attitude I gave her is beyond me. Looking back I can only imagine the restraint it took her not to throttle me. Nancy recognized talent in me and she was willing to put in the time, effort and determination to bring it out. I can remember spending every day after school for months with Nancy as she coaxed my singing voice out. It was like watching someone trying to bring a shy bird forward. Little by little it came and there was Nancy, smiling, reassuring and pushing. Even when I wanted to give up she did not and would not. Nancy taught me something that has stayed with me in the decades that have passed. She taught me not to give up on myself and not to give up on others even when they are teetering on the brink of giving in. She taught me to encourage with passion so infectious others can not help but go along. When it came time for me to prepare for college auditions I decided to audition with the piano as my instrument instead of voice. Nancy supported this and became my piano teacher. Once again I was after school with her practicing, learning and it paid off. My audition went smoothly and I was accepted to college as a music major with a piano concentration. After about a year in college I realized college was not for me. While college was left behind at that point music itself remained. I don't think I ever genuinely took the time to thank Nancy for her belief in me and my abilities. This was a time in my life when I did not believe in myself. Nancy, whether she knew it or not, stepped in and took stewardship for me. For this along with many other things I am thankful to her.
Today, over thirty years after I started my journey into making music I still sing, play and teach. Every time I sit at the piano I am joined in my mind by the host of people who helped me on this journey. My gratitude for music is hard to express as is an adequate expression of gratitude for these people.
It's funny, in the end we use two words to express gratitude and they just do not seem full enough. None the less I would like to say them now to my parents, Lynne and Nancy. Thank you Mom and Dad for giving me the gift of music which I will take through my entire life. Thank you Lynne for teaching me to love what I do with contagious passion. Last, to Nancy. thank you for teaching me to trust in myself, my abilities and most of all believe in others and help them to believe too.