PianoFortitude – My Musical Beginnings

When I was only six years old, my mother decided that we should both learn to play the piano. I recall the skid marks all the way to lessons. All my friends spent their time kicking footballs, but I was now to embark upon a journey of scales, arpeggios, theory, musicianship, exams, and countless hours of practice. For eight years it was a hard slog for both me and my wonderful teacher Mrs Mae. My parents insisted that I continue with piano lessons, no matter how hard at times I found it. But then at the age of fourteen they allowed me to make my own decision as to whether I should continue. I quit.

But I didn’t quit music. I quit classical music and piano lessons and started to explore contemporary music, and at one point Mark Fitzgerald, an adult member of our local church, handed me some lyrics and asked me to write a melody. That small act transformed my life forever.

Throughout the next six month period of my life I started writing my own music and was genuinely excited about the piano again. So I returned to classical lessons with my new teacher Miss Bronwyn Ethell, but this time I was learning under my own steam, not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I was practicing twice as hard and long and commenced upon the long journey of refining my skills as a composer of melodies and the writer of lyrics – a songwriter.

In learning to play the piano, for the second time around, I  developed a work ethic. For in the early days I  recognised, the one year I failed my piano exam, that effort is rewarded positively and lack of effort negatively. I also learnt the value of discipline and of having a regular routine. And as the years passed I discovered the importance of experimentation and of ad-liberation; that one doesn’t necessarily need to be stuck doing or playing what others play, but that I could in fact go ahead and create something completely new and limitless with those eight notes that make up an octave.

The piano, throughout all my years of playing, has built within me strength, destiny, resolve, empowerment, and the ability to influence and impact others in a positive way. It has taught me the power of practice, persistence and perseverance.  And that success isn’t always equated to talent alone, but sometimes in proportion to sheer simple and plain old hard work.

Music is a tool that can communicate across cultures. There are no boundaries – because through the wonder of music my heart can communicate directly to another heart.

PianoFortitude – the strength of mind that enables one to endure adversity with courage, has carried me through the softs and the louds of life, the crescendos and the diminuendos. It has sustained me through the rests and the quavers. Structured, yet free to express the uniqueness placed within me as I dared to dream.

Be Sociable, Share!
202 readers liked this post

3 Responses - Share Your Thoughts

  • I loved reading this story. It was worth it; wasn’t it! You have never quit whatever you have decided to pursue. Love you.

  • Hello Peter – You have an interesting story, and one which I don’t doubt is common. I too began piano lessons at the age of 5; but did not really begin to like practising until I was 12. My piano lessons have taken me on wonderful life journeys,a culminating in a classical singing career. I have been trying to find references to Bronwyn Ethell, who was a student at Presbyterian Ladies’ College at Croydon, when I taught there in the 1970s. We became friends, then drifted away to our different lives, and I lost contact with her. She was an exeptional student and human being, and I would like to contact her. Could you put me in touch in some way? I look forward to hearing from you about this.

  • […] she wanted to learn the piano and at the same time I was included in the equation. This is when I took my first piano lessons and developed my love for […]

Leave a Comment