December 16, 2011

Piano Lessons

I woke up this morning with a memory. Maybe I had a dream, I'm not sure but I just wanted to write this down so I have some record of it.

Many years ago, maybe when I was about 7, I had the fortune of taking piano lessons. My teacher, I don't remember his name, was a crotchety older man in his 50's as I can recall. He was extremely strict and disciplinary when it came to his students.

The first day I met him, I walked into his studio with my father holding my hand and I remember this very clearly, he asked me one question. He asked "Do you know how many keys there are on a piano?". I replied as quickly as I could "88!" Then he put his hand on my shoulder to lead me over to a huge black grand. (It was huge cuz this is little Seth we're talking about.)

He sat me down on the bench and asked if I knew how to play any songs. We had an old upright piano in our home that I used to mess around on and I was able to pick out parts of songs by listening to them. There was one that I had played a lot, Greensleeves. So I started to play it for him, left hand and right hand.

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Not more than one bar into the song he stops me and says, "Where have you taken lessons before?" I turned at my Dad who sat silently watching and gave me only a look, which told me I needed to reply on my own to the teacher. "I haven't taken any lessons, just play what I hear in my head." is pretty much what I think I replied.

So the teacher looks at my father, gets up and walks over to him and I'll never forget this, he says "Your son has a gift." At the time, I wasn't quite sure what he meant but I knew it was a good thing because I remember Dad smiling at me.

After he and Dad spoke for a few more minutes, while I was tinkering on this beast of a piano, Dad and I thanked the teacher for his time. We walked outside and Dad turns to me and asks if I want to take lessons with this man. I said I did. So Dad walked back in, leaving me out in the cold wintery day on the cobblestone street. After a very short minute or two, he came back out and said he was sorry but we couldn't afford this teacher.

I was kind of upset but still happy. I knew this teacher was happy with me for some reason and that he liked me so I felt a sense of accomplishment perhaps in having tried and succeeding, regardless of that I wasn't able to take lessons from him.

We drove the short distance back home. Dad walked in the house while I stayed outside to play in the snow with my 5 older brothers who immediately started pelting me with snowballs! Good thing back in the day we had those really puffy jackets! But I'm sure they took it easy on little Seth.

I ran in the house and my Grandfather was sitting in his usual chair, red and white checkered robe swiping the floor, reading the paper. With his heavy Greek accent he asked me "do you really love music? Do you want to take lessons with that teacher?" I said "Yea, but we can't pay for it."

Then my grandfather said "I will pay for your lessons."

I don't really remember how much money he gave me, but I imagine he spoke with Dad before handing me some bills. I was so excited! I hopped on my my bike and drove through the slush and snow back to the piano teacher and told him I want to take lessons with him. So I gave him the money and he asked where I got it from. I told him Papoo gave it to me for my lessons. Then he kneels down and opens his hand and says "You give this back to your Papoo. Come back Tuesday and we'll start your lessons."

This kind man ended up giving me the lessons for free for about 6 months as I can remember and I think it's because of his kindness, I now have this amazing part of my life that has defined me in many ways. Music is universal and being able to create music is a gift that I am eternally grateful for.

During this Holiday Season, I want to thank you for your generosity and support of my music, in real life and Second Life. Without you, my friends and my family, I know that the meaning of my life would be very different.

Regardless of what Holidays you may be celebrating, I would like to wish you a wonderful Holiday Season and may God grant you Health and Prosperity in the coming New Year!

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