I began playing piano when I was about 4 and took lessons for many years until some point in high school. I have to admit that I hated practicing (and hardly ever did) and somewhat grudgingly participated every year in the recitals and competitions. I stopped playing when I went to college and didn’t start again until a few years ago.
I moved around a lot and lived mostly in apartments until I met my husband and we moved into the farm house where we currently live. Two things happened shortly after we moved in: 1) I realized I wanted to play piano again almost desperately and 2) I realized it might be possible now to own a piano. Soon things fell into place. We bought an old piano at the local Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store which they graciously delivered to our home and that was that. Suddenly, I had a piano.
Initially, playing piano again was a little intimidating. I wanted the training wheels back on my bike so-to-speak. I didn’t have any of my old piano books. Thinking I would have a hard time remembering anything, I started looking for beginners books to start the learning over again. I searched high and low on the internet and at local music stores for books I recognized…something familiar to start with seemed safe. I soon had a good pile of books and was finally ready to get started.
Once I sat down to play, it all came rushing back. I didn’t really need the training wheels. It really was like riding a bike…a little rusty at first, but soon I was playing at the same level I was when I stopped playing many years before.
But this time…something was different. The drudgery and dread, that I had experienced often when I played as a child, was completely gone. My distaste for practicing, the anxiety about lessons, the pain of memorizing new music, the terror I felt preparing for recitals…that was all gone. I was suddenly free to plunk, piddle, and play my little heart out without any care or concern.
It was so liberating! I soaked it up. I thirsted for more. I played everyday, sometimes for hours at a time. I enjoyed learning new music and ached for that next challenging piece. It opened up a space inside of me that had hardened and all but disappeared.
I was having frivolous fun! There were no strings attached. I had no thoughts of “how can I turn this into a money-making activity?” (like I did with most things that I thought would be fun but thought I had better find a way to make them productive to justify doing them). I was free to explore, create, and make mistakes. There was no real purpose besides fun. There was no judgment, no criticism, no expectation. Just plain old-fashioned fun.
My piano marked the beginning of a process of self-discovery centered around how I define fun. Obviously, this is something I am still working on. I’m still learning how to “play.” I’m learning how to feed my creative side. I’m learning how to take better care of all aspects of me.
To this day, playing piano is a meditative, energy-shifting, therapeutic experience for me. When I sit down to play, I instantly feel my chest open up, my breathing slow down, and the joy bubble up in my heart.
What’s your piano?
Is there something in your past experience of play that you could revisit and open up that place inside you? I encourage you to reconsider a playful activity that inspires you and feeds your creative side.
Here are some ideas of some things you can try to get you started:
- bang on pots and pans,
- sew a little pin cushion,
- photograph flowers,
- write a silly play and perform it with friends and family,
- create entire towns out of Lincoln Logs,
- fly paper airplanes,
- color in some old coloring books,
- create funny people with playdoh,
- make a sand castle,
- make a card for a loved one,
- make up a dance routine to your favorite song,
- write your own theme song.
I hope you this will at least get you started thinking about something fun you can do “just because.”