Saturday, May 1, 2010




1 : of, relating to, or characteristic of the piano
2 : skilled in or well adapted to piano playing

I grew up in a family of piano players. While my other kin were trained, I sort of picked up playing by ear—some of this may be innate, but it also came from having spent my childhood surrounded by musicians. I used to figure out the piano accompaniment to whatever we were singing in various school plays and musicals. This was entirely a practical venture for me. I would take my knowledge back to school and play the songs on the communal piano in order to impress my peers. Kids would gather around me and begin singing along. I didn't really have much else to offer in terms of "coolness," but they generally seemed impressed by my PIANISTIC skills.

These moments were exhilarating, and not only because my playing seemed to momentarily erase my dorkiness. These sing-a-longs were some of the first moments I experienced the thrill of playing music with other people. Sitting at that crappy, public school piano, surrounded by kids singing along softly out-of-key, my body tingled and waves of excitement passed from my chest to my fingertips. I looked down at the keys, trying to hide my smile, but it was useless. I was in love with that feeling.

Granted, playing the piano alone is gratifying, even cathartic. But there is something irreplaceable about playing music with other people, even if it's just people sitting around singing along to some dumb song—it's as though in those moments we're connected by some invisible thread that makes life seem more livable, and that somehow made me seem cool for a few moments in the fifth grade.

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