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  • Jenna Beall

Striking a Chord

Like many children, I was forced to take piano lessons.

"You'll thank me someday," my mom would say whenever we moaned and groaned.

Never, I silently vowed.

Once a week, my older brother and I would get dropped off at Miss Lavonne's house. She had a tray of stale Pepperidge Farm cookies and gave stickers liberally. During Joel's lesson, I got to sit on the sofa flipping through Calvin and Hobbes comics and eating the aforementioned stale cookies, which I enjoyed very much.

Interestingly, Miss Lavonne had an identical sister named Miss Ladonne. (I have no idea if I am spelling either woman's name correctly. Probably not.) Miss Ladonne would fill in for Miss Lavonne whenever she was sick, but we wouldn't be aware of the switcheroo until after the fact, which is some real Miss Nelson Is Missing jazz and also very strange.

I dreaded the annual recital, which took place each December, and the one year I perfected the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," I got the stomach bug and didn't even get to perform. I was both devastated and tremendously relieved.

Whenever we visited Media Play, I would beg my mom to buy me ridiculously advanced songbooks, such as Britney Spears' ...Baby One More Time album, when all I was capable of playing was "La Bamba."

After three years or so (Was it four? Five? It felt like an eternity!), my brother and I were finally allowed to say sayonara to piano lessons.

We were FREE!!!!!!!

Except as the years went by...


I missed it.

I found myself playing my beloved Sugar Plum Fairy tune whenever I visited my parents' house. It was a party trick of sorts whenever I'd be out and encounter a piano (this is a lame party trick, by the way). I began hinting to my parents that I'd like to play the piano again, and a few years ago, my mom and dad gifted me with the family piano for Christmas.

It was a very generous gift, and it made my older brother jealous, so it was a real win win.

While I still remembered a few songs by heart and could squeak by with the more basic songbooks, I realized I needed a refresher on reading music. So, the Christmas after receiving the piano, Adam presented me a gift certificate for lessons.

This is a very long lead-up to say this: I had my first piano lesson tonight, and it could not have been lovelier.

My instructor is a young twenty-something guy with a great sense of humor, easygoing attitude, and the patience of a saint. My classmates are all sorts of ages and have varying skillsets. Everyone there is kind, encouraging, and inclusive.

And as we did our breathing and shoulder stretching exercises together, as we learned proper finger placement and simple melodies, I felt a part of my brain—and my heart—come alive once again.

Why did I hate my piano lessons so much? I wondered. This is way more fun than reading Calvin and Hobbes!

Of course, I also kept thinking this, "God. My mom was right."

So this must be "someday."

Thank you, Mom.

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