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At around five years of age (whilst still living in Hungary) my mother took me to a music school where I was assessed as being tone deaf and told that the only instrument I would ever have any hope of learning to play is the violin.  Needless to say, my parents were less than enthusiastic at the prospect of listening to  the screeching of an instrument and I was diverted off the road to becoming a musician.  Or so it seemed...

I on the other hand, wasn't about to have my dreams squashed... I continued to pound away on the bottoms of pots an pan with my trusty wooden spoons and began playing nursery rhymes on the xylophone by ear... (tone deaf indeed - pfft!)

As I entered my teens I seriously began nagging my parents for piano lessons.  Not even my father's tales of his own experiences - recounting the hours of scales he was forced to practise and the caning of knuckles when he made a mistake - were enough to deter me.

As a final attempt to dissade me (knowing that I was painfully shy) my father made the following offer: 'If you find a piano to hire and a teacher, we'll pay for the lessons and the rental fee for as long as you take it seriously and practise regularly.'

His cunning plan backfired for within 24 hours I had found a paino teacher by the name of Miss (Marjorie)  Sheat - who happened to live a few houses up the road from us - and located a shop offering a variety of rental options.

From the career-crushing (mis)diagnosis, to the cinicism of my father, I proved them all wrong.  I took my piano lessons very seriously and before too long I was having two lessons per week and sitting at the piano practising at every chance - before school, after school, in the evenings and on the weekends.

I can only imagine what Miss Sheat must have thought of me when I first landed on her doorstep - a teenager wanting to learn to play the piano 'for fun' with no desire to sit exams and even less interest in classical music.  So she started me on the Alfred's Adult Piano Course books and the rest (as the cliche goes) is history!

I progressed through the course books at the speed of lightning, grew to love classical music, became friends and confidants with my teacher; worked my way through all the grades and became a concert pianist.


1994_01

Well, not quite... but wouldn't it make for an exciting ending?  Actually, it is mostly true - aside from the concert pianist part - my performances were exclusively reserved for the privilege of friends, family and Hungarian Club members.  I did, in fact, work my way through most of the grades (although I never ended up sitting any formal exams) and by the time I had my final lesson at age 18 I was comfortable playing grade 7 exam pieces.  Not only that, but I was capable of making an acceptable attempt at the full scores of Beethoven's Sonatas - my absolute favourites, along with Brahms, Bach, List, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi... (you get the picture!)

My passion for classical music has remained with me to this day: it inspired me in art classes; eased my teenage angst; provided hours of entertainment; and immesurable soul food both for myself and those who have listened to me play.  It did, however, fail me during those darkest hours following my father's passing.  I yearned to be enveloped in music and spent many hours transported into that alternative universe which I had grown to love - but never found the comfort I so desperately needed.  I couldn't bring myself to play anything uplifting and the dramatic, melancholy, and emotional pieces which I was drawn to served to magnify and intensify the saddness within my heart.  It simply became too painful to allow myself to become absorbed by music and eventually I stopped playing.

Slowly, as my soul began to accept the cruel reality of losing my father, I allowed music back into my life.  I even took vocal lessons for a couple of years and consequently dusted off the piano to find that I could still play reasonably well.

I still own that first Yamaha upright piano which my mother pain-stakingly paid off over many, many years.  It has survived two house moves - not an easy feat by any measure - and still plays beautifully.  (Although WELL overdue for tuning!)

Unfortunately, the busyness of motherhood coupled with the pressures of running a business do not allow me to play as often as I would like.  Not to mention the fact that 'air time' now involves a level of negotiation with my daughter - who suddenly has the urge to play whenever I sit down at the keyboard or insists that the music is interrupting her ability to role-play with her Barbie dolls (who happen to share real estate with the instrument within our home.

Yes, Satine is a budding musician.  At seven years of age she isn't interested in having formal piano lessons, but she goes through periods of teaching herself to play.  In my (somewhat biased) opinion I believe that she has a natural feel for music and not even the 'experts' would label her as being tone deaf.


2004_01

Now that Satine is well and truly settled into school life and growing her own passion for all areas of the performing arts I feel we have entered a new chapter and once again music is becoming an established companion as we continue our journey.

 

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