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This first person column is written by Calgary resident Sandra Lo. For more information on CBC’s First Person stories, please View FAQ,
My heart was racing and I was nervous but excited at the same time. My body was trembling and all my senses were heightened.
The last time I felt this way was when I was a teenager with a girl crush at school. So was I in love? Was I developing a crush on my male piano teacher, almost 30 years younger than me?
But none. He was not.
let me back up I had a stroke in March 2013, then mostly recovered and realized I was incredibly lucky. I vowed not to waste my good fortune, but to follow my dreams no matter what.
Six months after the stroke, before I could go back to work, I enrolled in piano lessons.
Some people believe that students can learn music well only when they are young. Financial problems meant I never had that chance as a child. But I had a dream, a passion and strong beliefs, and these beliefs have not deterred me, a 52-year-old man.
I learned slowly with my first teacher, overcoming lingering memory lapses and stroke fatigue. Then two years later, I started dating a guy in his 20s. He looked stern and ascetic. In our first lesson, he asked me how my previous teacher taught. I described how she would play each new song for me first and then help me understand it.
“I won’t do that,” he said. “I expect you to learn the notes on your own and when I give you homework to practice, I expect you to practice. If I see that you are not practicing, I will ask the administration staff.” Will ask you to transfer to another teacher.”
So I really practiced.
We worked together for three months. In our last lesson before Christmas, he was unusually harsh – he criticized my poor form and said I played with the wrong tempo and tone.
I went home in a state of shock.
But it was my dream. I was not going to give up without a fight.
When I saw him in January, I played the same song again and then, looking straight ahead, muttered, “I practiced this song about 500 times and I thought about giving up after my last lesson.” but I No going to.”
There was a pause. Then, softly, he said that he could see that I had made an effort.
From that moment his outlook and teaching changed. He was friendly, warm even. He used metaphors to explain difficult concepts. He took care to nurture my creativity, taught me to trust my intuition and interpret music. As long as I could explain my “intent” playing the piece and convey it with conviction, he was satisfied.
I was amazed and the world of music came alive. And that tingly feeling I got from that first crush? I was falling deeply in love with music through him.
I am now in my ninth year studying classical piano with my fifth piano teacher. I plan to do my level 6 piano exam in February 2024 and plan to write the level 8 music theory exam soon after.
Piano came to me at a time when life was not easy.-Sandra Low
Piano came to me at a time when life was not easy. Vertigo and fatigue from the stroke restricted my movement. I was unsteady when I walked and the memory lapses and lack of concentration were worse.
I had low self-esteem. I doubted myself, catastrophized and felt depressed.
Piano changed me. As I learned to truly make the music my own, I went from passive listener to active participant. I was empowered to express myself and the power of creativity in action made me fall unexpectedly and deeply in love.
That passion spilled over into all parts of my life, and it even helped me recover from a stroke.
The act of learning music pulled me through that angst-filled recovery phase. It kept my mind busy, took it out of negative thinking. And when I started living my dream of playing the piano, I started believing in myself again.
I also created something new – a national peer-to-peer support Community for adult music learners – To help other older adults learn to advance the bias, and to find a peer group of people who can understand the change I’ve made.
There is a quote attributed to Confucius that inspires me. He said, “We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.”
My stroke taught me that life is short. But music was there for me when I opened the door to live again, and through piano, I am truly living my best second life.
telling my story
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