There's a corner in my home that has been a bedrock of my childhood but strangely has lived in many different houses. This “corner” has traveled with me over the years and transforms any new unfamiliar house into a home. My family and I moved around a lot when I was growing up, 12 times to be exact, but my thoughtful parents were always able to provide me with this cozy corner and avenue of creativity and escape.
This spot in the house is where I was politely introduced to Chopin and Debussy and where I dramatically met Beethovan and Rachmanioff, but most importantly, where my own artistic voice in the world was conceived. It didn't matter where in the house this spot was created (although usually in the livingroom), it just needed one component: a piano.
My family had financial problems during my childhood. As I got older I realized that this was not foreign to a lot of families, but as a kid I thought I was the only one, the strange one. Because of that, some days were just plain stressful. Even as a 5-year-old kid, I could feel the stress of my family. I didn't have to know the details of the problems to be able to feel the emotions and take on the stress myself. I believe all kids can feel this. They are a lot more intuitive than we realize. But when I sat down at those black and white keys (I began to play at age 5), I was transported to another world. I was able to let my brain wander, play and travel. I was able to be a child. My hands played on the keys like kids playing on a playground; sliding down the slide and climbing the monkey bars, and just like that, the worries would dissipate into the wind like vapor. Music is magical like that. It can instantly calm us and transport us into another world because it's otherwordly, it's supernatural, it's heavenly.
As I got older and was able to actually play these complex composers like Chopin and Debussy, I was amazed at the journey their pieces would take me on. I became a storyteller by being a vessel for their pieces. It didn't matter if my day had been horrible, or if I was in a new and unfamiliar house, the piano was my corner that transported me to new worlds.
I have to admit I didn't always want to play. Especially at first, it took discipline. There were days that it was NOT a magical corner but more like a "dramatic child whining because her mom is making her practice" corner. Yet my mom gave me the greatest gift by forcing me to practice just like her mom had made her practice and my grandmother's mom had made my grandmother practice. This "corner" (or gift of playing the piano), is actually a generaltional tradition. After consistent practicing and discipline, I eventually began to understand the language of music, and the corner transformed into a magical haven.
I recently moved states and sadly couldn't bring my beloved upright piano or my electric piano with me. I didn't care, however, because of the giddiness I felt when I gave them away. I was able to gift my electric piano to my nieces. I couldn't wait to hear about how they would create their own special artistic corner and travel to their own worlds through music. I was ecastic to think about them playing the piano like kids playing on a playground.
Currently, I am in L.A. and am searching for a permanent upright piano. Though I don't have an actual piano right now, that hasn't stopped me from creating "the corner." New home, same corner. This time, it is filled with a ukelele and a MIDI piano. They are perched by a window looking out at a church cathedral. These days, I am transported to beachy and "chill" worlds through my ukelele and my MIDI piano can take me to any world imaginable, literally. I am still shocked by all the things a computer can do for music.
That being said, my heart will forever be with an old upright piano, and those ancient composers who originally taught me how to express emotion through 88 keys.
Whenever I see a piano and am allowed to play it, I take the chance. It can be at a mall or another person's house or even an art exhibition! The moment I begin playing, I escape back into my cozy corner.