In times of difficulty when you would think that music would help, I find it difficult to go to the piano. It’s something I don’t quite understand, but perhaps the fear of getting to emotions that are too deep keeps me from playing the music I love. I studied piano for many years and even tried to major in it my first year of college (but that’s another story) and gained a measure of proficiency that has allowed me to play for choirs, singers, and instrumentalists, as well as just for myself.
So why can’t I play when life is hard? Why won’t I allow myself that bit of beauty and tactile pleasure of pressing the black and white keys?
Last week, I found myself home alone and felt drawn to the piano. I decided that I would try to play again. I pulled out the first Prelude by J.S. Bach, a simple piece that Gounod used to accompany his “Ave Maria.” I love the way the harmonic tension builds in this piece and then releases into what feels like peaceful acceptance.
I sat at the piano and just looked at the music for a moment. It’s the language I love to read most. My hands lifted to the keyboard and my fingers found their places on the keys. I started to play and let the broken chords wash over me like gentle waves of ocean water. Then as the emotion and harmonic progression grew, I felt something change in me. I let my guard down a little and opened a window inside. I knew that in a few measures would come my favorite part, the part where there is the assurance that you are on the road home–a homecoming to the key of C.
What I didn’t know was that when I got there, tears would be streaming down my face.