Keys to the Soul

I started taking piano lessons when I was seven years old. I hated it because during my first group lesson, all of the other kids laughed at me for not knowing what a chord was. I ran out sobbing, screaming at the top of my lungs that I would never return. Not exactly a choice given to a sever year old, and I was in the same class the next week. A year later my mother took pity on me and upgraded to a private teacher, and I began to look forward to my lessons.

Unfortunately, recitals were required by my new teacher. During my first performance, I came down with horrid stage fright and froze, forgetting everything I had learned. This fear followed me around, and my mother quickly returned me to the group lessons- no recital required.

I never re-gained my love for piano until years later. When I was fourteen, I convinced my parents that I wanted to play field hockey at school instead. My piano books quickly became a distant memory and our family piano soon sat alone; a thin layer of dust settling on down on the untouched ivory keys.

I look back now on my younger years, and wish that I had never given up on myself. Now, instead of struggling with the chords and making rookie mistakes when I practice, I could easily be working on memorizing my latest song in preparation for an upcoming gala performance. I have chosen to play Yiruma’s “River Flows in You”- not only because it is completely mesmerizing, but also because he will be there to watch me perform. He first introduced me to this song; he brought back my passion for piano. It is only fitting that it is the song I play.

Let me rewind for a moment, to address the mysterious he that I refer to. Over the course of the past year, I fell in love with a music man. Not my typical choice, but our deep passion for music brought us together and we have been combining our music ever since. He is more of the performer; I have still battled the same stage fright that came over me when I was a little girl. However, this gala is important to us and I finally agreed to take the stage, knowing how much this means to him.

The night of the gala finally arrives. Everyone stares as we emerge from the limousine. I feel like the belle of the ball with a floor length, black, backless dress and silver sparkling heels peeping out every time I take a step. A pearl bracelet dangles from my left wrist and a matching necklace and earring set gleam against my skin; a gift he gave me for tonight.

The crowds slowly begin to head into the theater, where the musical portion of the night begins. After the first few performances, my name is called and the crowd applauds as I walk towards the stage. I can hear my heels hitting the floor as I nervously walk up the stairs.

I reach the top step and look over my left shoulder, searching the crowd until our eyes connect. My fears drift away, and I continue to feel his eyes on me as I make my way to the glossy black grand piano at center stage. As I sit down on the cool, hard surface of the bench, I feel like the keys have been waiting for me all my life.

The lights dim and in that moment the crowd disappears from my sight. As silence fills the air, all I can hear is the rhythm of my heart beating. I convince myself that he is the only one in the audience. I take a deep breath and slowly close my eyes. I don’t need to read the notes off of the pieces of paper lined up neatly in front of me; I want to feel the keys come to life as the rhythm take off in my soul. My hands find the opening chords, and the music begins to pour out over the crowd.

Bliss, elation, joy, happiness- these words cannot even come close to what I’m feeling as the song takes flight in my heart. Each and every moment of those three and a half minutes contain the most wonderful emotions that I have ever felt. My passion for music is burning brighter with each keystroke.

As the tempo slows and I play the last note, the crowd erupts into ecstatic applause. I feel winded from the overwhelming emotions and it takes me a moment to rise from the bench. When I can finally breathe again, I begin my walk slowly back down the stairs and into the blurry sea of faces.

The continued clapping sounds far away as I am in a dense fog, somewhere on cloud nine. I acknowledge the people coming up to me, congratulating me, but all of the faces in the crowd are a blur. I feel like my mind is in another realm of existence. I struggle to find him, begging myself to come back to Earth before my overpowering emotions take over and cause me to faint.

Thankfully he finds me just before I collapse, and I feel his arms wrap tightly around me and scoop me up. His deep brown eyes slowly come into focus. I see the beaming smile on his face as he whispers in my ear “I’m so proud of you, I knew you could do it.” In this moment, he has made me realize how wonderful it is to be able to share my passion for music.

Music is meant to touch the deepest parts of the soul. It did for me that night. Being able to bring that out in myself and to also give that experience to others is utterly indescribable. I have been given a clean slate and I look forward to being able to touch more people with my music.

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