During Spring Break 2022, I had a wonderful time visiting a friend, who’s a pianist and a professor of ethnomusicology, in Scottsdale, Arizona.
We had a great time connecting after over ten years of not seeing each other. We talked about music and travels, and she took me around Scottsdale for sightseeing, including Musical Instrument Museum and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesn West, which I both highly recommend.
We also took time to play the piano for each other. My friend is in her 80s, and she still enjoys playing the piano for her and her community.
There is no doubt that music, especially learning to play the piano, has immediate and long-lasting affect on us, cognitively, physically, and emotionally. Moreover, it is one of the longest lasting investments into our lives – something we can enjoy well into our 80s and 90s and more.
How can we learn and study music and piano in a way that can last a lifetime? We need to do it thoughtfully, joyfully, persistently, and over a long period of time.
My personal belief is that it also should be more than only learning prewritten pieces.
I see in my students that once they learn how to read music, it is tempting to just work on learning prewritten pieces. But those who want to stay for the long haul and have the resources to create newness in their music and playing must continue to work and develop new skills and continue to explore music through them.
If we want music to be alive for the rest of our lives (not just listening, but actively participating in making), we have to make music our own pursuit, our own struggle, our own love, and our own triumph.
This is what I want for every single person I work with.