EIGHTY EIGHT KEYS, TEN FINGERS, TWO HANDS, ONE HEART
That’s my life. Lived through the digits of thumb to pinkie, lifted and released and let loose on those beautiful black and white pieces of slender rectangles that are strung together like a magnificent necklace of magical sounds. I express there - I rage and rant, and pray and become centered. Through those sounds that emanate from the striking of small wooden hammers on a series of strings, I am transcended, moved, made better. This gift I have been given is mine for life. This gift I have is the greatest, deepest joy that comes from deep inside my soul, my bones, my heart-beat. This gift I have been given is more profound, more fulfilling than any paycheck could ever be. This gift I have been given is mine to share, to collaborate with, to finesse into something new from what has been around for ages.
Fingers pound, caress, playfully traipse across those keys in a myriad of ways. From venting teenage angst through Beethoven Sonatas, or imagining first love while playing Ravel’s achingly tender L’Oiseau Triste or racing as fast as possible to beat the clock with Chopin’s Minute Waltz….then discovering the immense world of musicals, and all the fascinating scores of the great American composers. And later, at last, actually playing a musical for the first time in college. Man of La Mancha changed my musical path from being a classical accompanist to becoming a musical theatre pianist, conductor and composer. Writing, playing, creating at the keyboard – agony and joy – the high when it’s all going so beautifully, easefully – and the pain when you think it’s all terrible and you’ll never have a good, new idea again.
All that music, all that poetry of line and tempo and sadness or hope or joy – all gets to be expressed through these flexible, bendable, human paintbrushes called fingers. What amazing creator made this possible? That each member can move completely independently, or collectively to strike or meld onto a piece of ivory and make it sing, make it laugh, make it shout or make it weep.
It starts as a tremendous responsibility to get it right when a youngster, then becomes a determined sense of pride as a young adult to prove your skill, your worth. Years go by and you play for the simple pleasure of it. A woman who plays just because she wants to, likes to, feels like it. I still dig out my Beethoven Piano Concerto No.1 in C or Chopin waltzes or 59 Piano Solos You LikeTo Play….and for the sheer joy of it, the fun, the delight – whether I get all the notes right or not doesn’t matter, my heart flies above the giant black beast of notes and dances with a childlike delight reserved for angels. I am blessed.