Like some of my friends, I had piano classes when I was young. It was the closest experience I had with a private tutor or mentor. Each lesson was only 30 minutes long but it always felt like an eternity. Many a times, my heart would be pounding as I dragged my feet to the door of the studio. I knew it would be another dreadful class. I hated the mental distress that I often found myself in.
To my six-year-old brain, the notes in the music score were just so foreign. The 5 lines in the score often set me into a state of mental frenzy and despair. I had difficulty deciphering the notes in the music score, a skill known as sight-reading. I had even greater difficulty putting my fingers together and playing a coherent tune.
Nevertheless, I had a really kind Piano Teacher who taught me the value of practice and hard work. She tried her very best to inculcate a habit of practising the piano in me. She would lavish me with praises and convey them to my dad when I did practise the piano on the rare occasion. Her praises fuelled my desire to practise and improve. I went on to obtain my Grade 3 certificate under her guidance which was a huge feat for me at that point of time.
I know a plentiful of friends who have at least a Grade 8 or advanced certificate later in my school life. However, the ability to play the piano at a Grade 3 level was an achievement to me because I had pushed myself and achieved my goal with the help of my piano teacher.
To me, the piano lessons represented discipline and hard work. Over the years, whenever I felt stressed and challenged, I would always recall my experience of learning the piano. That experience gave me the tenacity and inner power to sit through all problems and dive into them. I will run away from the problems but I will always find my way back to solve them.
Will I make my children learn the Piano?
I am not sure. It depends on the interest of my children. If my children gravitate towards music, I would most certainly give them the opportunities to develop their interests. I have met many friends who picked up a musical instrument (e.g. Violin, Ukulele, Guitar, Sitar) in their late teens and early twenties. Most of them did not have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument when they were young. I applauded their courage to learn something so difficult (at least to me it was).
My friends who persisted in learning do it mostly out of interest and personal development. What I really like about learning as an adult is that you are your most loyal audience and cheerleader. You would never have to feel lousy about yourself because you do not play as well as your schoolmates or cousins, unlike when I was a child. I hope I would never turn it into a competition or a chore for my children, like what was described in the book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mum by Amy Chua, if I ever give them piano classes.