When I was six years old, my Mom said she had a surprise for me. I was so excited about maybe receiving a new Barbie! Not so, for the surprise was my very first piano lesson. REALLY MOM? All the other kids were getting cool toys to play with and I was stuck in some old lady's house for the next hour. Every week. For years.
Then I began to really like playing the piano, so I played A LOT growing up (just ask my brother). After my Dad died when I was in 8th grade, the piano became my everything. All of my hurt and anguish about my Dad poured out through my fingers in a sort of daily counseling session, the works of Chopin and Rachmaninoff perfect for that sort of therapy. I always offered to play the piano as an accompanist for the school choirs, adding music to the school's theater productions, providing music therapy at a local nursing home, serving local congregations as the church pianist, or as the assistant director of the children's choir at my home church. If there was a piano, I played it.
It has been my dream since I was a teenager to be a professional pianist. But sometimes life gets in the way of our dreams. Don't get me wrong, I will never regret the path that my career took - first to Bolivia as the director of an international non-profit development organization, then to the classroom to teach high school Spanish. I loved my students even more than I loved playing the piano, putting so much time and effort into lesson plans and grading papers that the piano became more a piece of furniture than the magnificent instrument I so treasured during my youth.
At the end of 2015, I was in a car accident that left me with a substantial brain injury, from which it took me a few years to recover. I know that I am lucky that I recovered as fully as I did. I also know, WITHOUT A DOUBT, that my piano played a huge role in my recovery. There were days I had trouble getting off the sofa, didn't even know my last name. But I could still play the piano from the muscle memory of having played for decades prior. So I played. And played. And played. AND RECOVERED! My skills of my teenage years started to come back, as did the dream of becoming a professional pianist.
Now, I'm so glad my Mom gave me that surprise and encouraged me to keep going. That Barbie would have been sent off to the thrift store in a matter of months anyways. But I was given a gift that can never be taken away, a source of strength and encouragement during difficult times, one that will outlast all the other gifts I have ever received. Now, I want to share that gift with you! Maybe even make some of your dreams come true too!
When not playing piano, my hobbies include hiking and backpacking, riding mountain and road bikes, scuba diving, traveling around the country and world, speaking and teaching Spanish, cooking and baking.
My piano teacher, Mary Patterson, rest her soul, was likely on most days the most important adult in my life during my tumultuous teenage years. She saw the potential in a scared little girl, and brought out that potential to create something beautiful and meaningful. If I am even half the piano teacher she was, I am going to impact kids' lives. Part of the reason I am now trying to establish my own piano business is to pay tribute to Mary Patterson, one of the finest human beings I have ever known.