One of the best things so far about living at my in-laws’ house is that they own a real piano. I hadn’t realized how much I missed it.
I’ve played every day this week, and instead of just playing the easy things, I’ve pulled out my old classical books. I feel like the old man in a cd by our friend Marvin Payne called “The Planemaker.” The old man, when he tries to pick up his tools after years of disuse, exclaims, “I don’t understand! It used to be so easy.”
Playing classical music used to be much easier for me, but I’m getting better, and by the time I leave here I might even be able to play my old competition songs again.
One of my favorite piano books, which has quickly become a favorite of Ryan’s dad and brother as well, is the book I bought in China. It wasn’t a random purchase; I went to the music store looking for a book with certain songs, songs my mom played when I was growing up, from a book she’d bought in Taiwan.
Funnily enough, the composer (actually, I’m not sure if he writes them or is just a pianist) isn’t Chinese. He’s French. But the Asians love him.
I played my first Richard Clayderman song when I was eleven. I remember mom coming in several times to tell me to play the notes evenly first, and then I could play them quickly. I protested that I was playing “with feeling.”
Those songs were my older brother’s favorites, and he’d ask me to play them when he did his math homework. I also got to play one at a recital when I was twelve—the only performance piece I ever chose myself.
My life has changed a lot since those days, but playing those songs makes me feel like a pianist again, and for just a few minutes I remember what it felt like to have my biggest concern be whether or not I had practiced my two hours that day. These days I’m lucky to get ten minutes, but I appreciate them much more.
I'm still working on playing the notes evenly. But there's definitely feeling.