When I was looking at schools, one of the things that excited me most about Connecticut College was the fact that the College’s music program offers free lessons. Last year, I investigated this opportunity but didn’t end up taking advantage of it because of scheduling conflicts. Given how busy I’ve been this year, I did not plan to inquire about the music lessons again.
I have a good musical ear, and I’ve done well teaching myself how to play instruments and read music. I also have my guitar on campus and access to the school’s pianos, so I figured that was enough to satisfy my passion for music. I wasn’t capitalizing on lessons, sure, but I was given access to a practice room and a full piano—two things I don’t have at home. It was still a win.
As an art minor, I might as well live under one of the easels in Cummings, our music and arts center. One day, I found myself there with some time to kill, so I figured I'd ask about the music lessons. To my surprise, everything fell into place. The same scheduling issues came up, but I may or may not have found some loopholes to get past the problem.
I’m now taking piano and voice lessons. I have yet to begin my voice lessons, but I’ve had two piano lessons thus far. I’ll admit that they were fairly terrifying. Although I told my teacher I did not know how to read sheet music for piano, she placed a piece by Mozart in front of me and told me to play. I figure that’s akin to the approach where you throw kids in the deep end of a pool and tell them to swim. Fighting my fear of disappointing my piano teacher, I painstakingly played the piece with my right hand. I knew the names of the notes on a staff, and I knew the names of the keys on a piano so I translated each note one by one.
“Okay, now play the left hand,” my teacher said. “I don’t know how to read bass clef,” I responded. “Just try.” Never have I ever had a reason to know anything about bass clef. But, so as to not disappoint, I taught myself on the spot. I knew where the “F” was, and so I worked using that basic knowledge. It was terrifying, but I did it. And that was my first piano lesson.
After my first lesson, I felt guilty. I did not want to waste my piano teacher’s time with my rudimentary knowledge of piano. I was also very nervous for what future lessons would entail. So, I planned to practice a lot over the weekend. It was the first time I practiced that something peculiar happened. As I sat down at the piano and looked at my music, my fingers took control. Suddenly, I could almost play the piano! Apparently, between my lesson and the time I sat down to practice, my brain had made some kind of sense of the music. I was initially so discouraged, but this miraculous progress gave me a different outlook. After being thrown into the deep end, I’d started to tread water.
At this point, I’m still a little bit (a lot) terrified of my lessons but I feel more confident in my ability to grasp the material. I’m glad to have the opportunity to take lessons, and I’m excited to see how much I’ll have improved by the end of the semester.