OPED: Music appreciation matters

MEEKER | I am extremely fortunate that a piano has been a companion to me most of my life. As a child, in the tradition of women in my family, girls were expected to take lessons, learn classical music, and practice faithfully. Starting in first grade, my parents paid the fees for lessons and music, drove me to weekly lessons, and endured listening to my many mistakes as I struggled to master the piano.

My mother insisted I play for 30 minutes every day and set the stove timer to assure my practice met her standards. By the end of my senior year in high school, I had completed 12 years of lessons with about 10,000 hours of practice per year! I look back at the pieces I could readily play in 1966 (still have some of that music) and can’t believe I had learned to play those very complex works.

When my husband and I got married and lived in Loveland, he knew how much I missed owning a piano. So, we took out a loan and bought the beautiful piano we still own today. Although I played it sparingly over the years, especially when our children came along, I always enjoyed the peace and joy of sitting down and playing piano music just for me.

Now in my senior years, the joy of piano playing comes back to me. It is a peaceful hobby and once again, I can learn and improve. My finger dexterity will never be the same as when I was 18 thus many pieces will be beyond my capability. Still, the arthritis in my fingers has been mitigated by more playing. My husband, who is not a musician, even claims to enjoy listening to me practice.

My return to playing my piano has also encouraged me to listen to more music and more diverse music. While working on my laptop or driving in the car, I appreciate guitarists, jazz, even gospel and country western musicians of whom I am not a huge fan, along with listening to traditional classical music. Music can enrich our lives in many ways.

I am writing this article to encourage musicians of all kinds, all ages, parents, schools, and communities to embrace the art and joy of music. We need to encourage our youngsters to sing and play. Any instrument, any type of music, any level of accomplishment is a step forward in music appreciation. Old timers like me may find comfort in returning to the music you enjoyed in earlier years.

It doesn’t really matter how great or struggling your musical talents may be. Embrace music for the joys and comforts it brings to you. The goal isn’t to be a rock star or first chair violinist in a world acclaimed orchestra. Musical skills will give back to you over and over throughout your life. I encourage everyone to embrace the many joys of music.

By Kaye Sullivan | Special to the Herald Times