The piano is the most basic instrument. Learn this one, and it will be easier to learn any other instrument.
Music is important to us. Everybody likes some kind of music. Everybody needs music.
Dave and I come from a family of music lovers and connoisseurs of music. We both enjoy music, so it’s no wonder that our kids inherited genetics along those lines. We realize that an appreciation for and love of music can carry us far – especially when one is feeling alone or down.
I believe in music. It soothes, softens, strengthens, and satisfies. Songs and tunes stay with us longer than mere words.
So our family sang. In our evening family devotions, at the table before meals, and while traveling, we sang. We sang in church and at family events.
We made up songs and made up tunes and took our kids to give programs at nursing homes and allowed them to make up their own songs for the residents. Yes, we did.
Then we invested in music lessons. Piano lessons, to be precise.
We said, “You want to play an instrument? You have to take piano first.”
One whole year of nothing but piano. We had our reasons, and I am here to tell you today they were mighty good reasons.
When money was tight, I taught the beginners for a few months. We allowed one son to take lessons bi-weekly instead of weekly, but he had to take them for a twelve-month period.
On this side of those practice sessions, weekly or bi-weekly lessons, orchestra, concerts, talent shows and recitals, I know it was the right decision.
But on that side? Oh, let me tell you: we were mean and unfair.
Nobody else’s parents made their kids take an entire year of piano before they could learn a new instrument.
And we said, “We’re not nobody else’s parents now, are we?”
Even though our kids didn’t pay attention to or acknowledge our reasoning, we defined three reasons why.
- We already had a piano. We didn’t owe any money on the piano and we weren’t needing to rent this instrument. It was ours. Because it was ours, it was also theirs, and it was free. We didn’t plan to invest in another instrument until they learned to play the one we already had.
- We wanted to see if this child was disciplined enough to be consistent in practicing. If a child didn’t want to practice to prove they deserved our investment in another instrument or lessons, there was no reason to consider any other instrument.
- The piano is a basic instrument. By playing this instrument, kids learn to read music and feel the rhythm of songs. If a child wasn’t willing to start with the basic rudiments of music, he didn’t need to be taking lessons at all. The piano is foundational to any other instrument.
From piano, our half-dozen moved on to other instruments: guitar, violin, flute, clarinet, trumpet, drums, and mandolin. Sometimes they played alone, and sometimes they played in groups. Sometimes they participated in talent shows, and sometimes they played for special programs at church.
You know which one they keep coming back to now, years later? The piano.
You know what happens when our guys come home to visit? Somebody is sitting at the piano, playing.
And me? I’m sitting there, listening. I look at Dave, and we smile.
“Remember when?” we say.
We remember when we were the mean parents who made them practice before play. We were the unfair parents who insisted they play for visitors and in nursing homes. We were the ridiculously old-fashioned parents who didn’t give in when the guitar, flute, violin or trumpet was so much more inviting than piano.
Yep. Sitting in the living room listening to someone jamming on the piano, I bask in the sound of music. If they could, the walls of our house would be bulging from the many chords and rhythms.
Ah, the majesty and harmony is a symphony to my ears. It’s a wonderful melody to my soul.