My mother played the piano—and I loved sitting by her on the piano bench and singing songs when I was a little child. When I was seven, my mom started me on piano lessons. I took them from a Catholic nun who taught at a parochial school in the next town over. (My mom took piano lessons from the Catholic sisters when she was young, and she wanted me to have the same experience.) In the next 10 years, I took lessons from several Catholic sisters as they would transfer in and out.

I practiced the piano for 45 minutes a day—from 6:00 a.m. to 6:45 a.m. I didn’t want to, but my mom wanted me to, and I was a first child who desperately cared what his mom thought, so I did it. She didn’t insist that I practice before school, but I did it then to get it over with, so I could play baseball and other sports (in season) after school. Note: My brother, who was a second child, did not care what my mom thought. He didn’t want to practice the piano, so he didn’t. After a year or so of wasted lessons, he said he wanted to play the guitar instead, so my parents got him a guitar, but he didn’t practice that either. 

I practiced the piano almost every day until I graduated from high school. I accompanied hymns at church. I performed in recitals. I accompanied choirs in junior and senior high school. And I participated in high competitions (and won some too). At that time, I could play almost anything. My mom told me that I had “a beautiful touch on the piano,” and I totally believed it, whether it was true or not (I think it was true).

Some people can play by ear (I had to use my fingers—just kidding). I needed the notes. I couldn’t improvise.

As soon as I graduated from high school and moved away from home, I stopped practicing the piano. Even though I lost some of my ability, I could always play church hymns and could accompany for singing if the song wasn’t too hard.

Fast forward nearly 50 years. As I contemplated retirement, I thought “I’m going to practice the piano every day when I retire.” It’s been over eight months since I retired, and I’ve practiced the piano almost every day (e.g., in August 2020, 28 of 31 days—I keep track). I play Beatles songs now, (GoodGrandma bought me a Beatles piano book) not the classical music I played when I was a kid. And I’m learning “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day (a hauntingly beautiful song).

My mom passed away over 20 years ago, but now that I’m practicing again, she’d be so proud of me!

Piano Dreamers, Bringing Music Dreams to Life has an amazing article on the benefits of playing the piano. There are intellectual benefits, emotional, physical, social and personal benefits! Playing the piano improves your memory and sharpens concentration and focus. It decreases stress and increases happiness. It can strengthen your hands and improves your eye-hand coordination. Practicing the piano will elevate your multitasking skills, be a better listener, and manage your time better. The benefits are numerous from learning to play the piano.

Here’s an IDEA!!! Whether your providing lessons for your children or grandchildren, or even lessons for yourself, it’s worth the time and money (and maybe even the frustration in the beginning) to start learning to play the piano today.

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