Neither of my parents had any musical background. (I took the group piano class while having nothing to practice on during the week between lessons!). I begged my parents to buy a piano. They relented when I was seven.
My mother sold Tupperware to pay for a Wurlitzer console piano from the local music store. She found a graduate voice (not piano) student at the local university to teach me. That young teacher was both smart and kind. I enjoyed her lessons a lot!
I found great relief in learning music throughout my youth. Music soothed my emotional confusion and allowed me to express my true feelings with anonymity. I relished the solitude and musical expression as an introvert. I still do!
Contrary to my dark moods as a child (Don’t worry. I have lightened up!), I distinctly remember having incredible fun in my elementary music classes. My first music teacher was Dorothy Smith (now deceased). She was the funniest, most animated, openly warm-hearted, and embracing teacher I ever had in my life.
Sometimes she would sing and play cute, comedic songs on piano for us she had composed herself. She would help us put together musicals—including our parents as cast members! Her infectious enthusiasm and complete warmth were my catalytic hook to music.
She shared her love of creating original songs and using music as a way of community-building and fun. That ingrained in my heart the value of music as a communication method. She was a role model of using creativity to harmonize with others.
I quickly outgrew my first piano teacher and spent a few years waiting for my parents to find another. When we found one, I went through everything that teacher could offer within a year.
This same pattern continued until I started college. So I had a spotty, inconsistent, and generally lacking in educational quality piano history before college.
My College Years
After a difficult period in my personal life, I moved from Kentucky to Florida when I was 23. I was happily able to receive both piano and vocal scholarships at State College of Florida and the University of South Florida.
However, I tended to practice my original music and neglect my classical piano pieces until a week before jury time. Then I would cram all-day piano practice sessions for a week to pass my juries.
Miraculously, I always did well except for my nerves. It was a stressful situation full of stage fright. I do not recommend it.
The stage fright I experienced was traumatic and held me back for many years from pursuing music performance. My stage fright and approach to music learning reflected my life choices to that point and my lack of disciplined training.
I did not yet learn good piano practice habits. I learned the hard way quite a bit later about the importance of consistent, disciplined effort and preparation in music practice.
I did not opt for a vocal degree even though I got both piano and vocal scholarships, and despite being the leader of the jazz, madrigal, and full college choirs. I ended up changing my initial major from piano performance to music composition.
Although I was capable as a soprano and pianist, it was the creative process itself that was always a stronger voice within me.
What Is Most Important About Your Musical Experience
Despite my struggles with stage-fright and inconsistent training, the memory association that my first teacher gave me about music is a huge factor in my ability to not give up on my musical growth.
I share the details of my spotty musical background to encourage anyone reading that piano is for everyone. You do not have to have the fortune of high profile credentials to learn piano and gain the tremendous benefits of music education.
I am grateful for the influence of my first teacher. She showed me what is most important early on. That lesson carries me through to this day.
I made my 30-year career in piano and music education, and performing professionally as a pianist and vocalist despite my obstacles, thanks to my wonderful teachers.
Knowing How To Effectively Practice Piano Is Key
One of my college piano instructors, Dr. Charles Turon, gave me a complete understanding of effectively practicing piano. He taught me the importance of mind spent versus time spent.
He also taught me the importance of mindfulness and breath with an awareness of physical tension and placement during piano practice.
That was a huge lesson for my piano progress. Dr. Turon’s approach to piano practice became the basis for my teaching strategy and my piano practice sessions.
Immersed In The World Of Negative Musical Experiences
Unfortunately, not having solid musical training led to a lack of confidence in myself as a musician. I had such low self-esteem in college that I felt inadequate and out of place in the music department.
There were a few piano teachers whose intellectual snobbery and emotional distance kind of perpetuated my negative feeling. I had two female piano teachers, but both were reserved and stoic. Fellow pianists were stand-off-ish and more concerned with flashy technique versus authentically musical expression. So my whole college experience was a world of musical snobbery and intense judgment.
I know many musicians who have experienced the intellectual egoism of the classical music world, too. I also think this negative experience influenced my decision to get my degree in music composition versus performance.
Many people are looking to start piano lessons for themselves, a friend, or a child. But they do not know how to start. They often are not even aware of what basics are essential for successful piano education. Many people are intimidated by the prospect and give up even though they passionately want to play the piano!
There is a lot of noise out there offering quick tricks or gimmicks to learn piano faster than before. I am not saying that some things available online or elsewhere have no value.
But the truth is that these do not work in the long run. They do not provide the foundation for those who want successful improvement at playing the piano. They do not provide the essentials for those who wish to continue musical progress.
My ebook, Start Piano: What You Need For Successful Learning, is meant to dispel the myth—that successful piano-playing happens with a fast, easy trick or gimmick—through straight-talk from someone who has taught and played piano for 30 years.
I am retired from one-on-one piano teaching, but I want to offer value to my online audience at YourCreativeChord.com. Over the years, many people asked me the questions featured in my ebook! My blogs answer a lot of those questions from new or returning piano learners.
I decided to offer an all-in-one, easy-to-read resource where those interested in starting piano lessons can find all the answers to their questions about how to successfully begin and forge a strong foundation for continued piano progress.
For anyone interested in exploring piano learning, you get everything you need to get started learning piano right in my ebook, Start Piano: What You Need For Successful Learning!
What do I mean by the word, right? It means you will have the confidence that you have the right teacher, method, instrument, setup, routine, advice, age, and anything else needed to begin successful piano-learning!
My ebook, Start Piano: What You Need For Successful Learning, is a practical, down-to-earth, all-in-one resource and easy-to-read guide for anyone interested in starting or returning to piano lessons.
Get Everything You Need To Successfully Start Piano with my ebook, Start Piano: What You Need For Successful Learning. My ebook is a practical, down-to-earth, all-in-one resource and easy-to-read guide for new or returning piano learners.
My ebook provides answers to those seeking a successful start or to build steady momentum for piano progress.
YOUR CREATIVE FLOW BONUS GIFT:
As my gift to you, with every purchase of my ebook, you will automatically receive a FREE download of my original nature photo with a self-care affirmation for your creative flow. The affirmation poster is completely FREE to download, print, use as a desktop wallpaper or screensaver for your computer.
The beauty of nature and positive words brings inspiration. We all need reminders. May this small gift of beauty and positive thought remind you of your immense potential for creative energy and inspire you to tap into your best self as you continue on your journey for piano progress.
In my PIANO blogs, you'll find ways to overcome boredom, get past musical and mental blocks, explore the creative process with piano, and improve musical progress through piano teacher recommended best practices and effective piano practice tips.