Anyone who knows me knows I love music. From the time I sang my first solo in church when I was four until the present, I have been involved in music in some way. I started taking trumpet lessons when I was ten and played that instrument through high school. I also played the French horn for a number of years. I sang in choirs and loved to listen to good music.
However, it was when mom insisted that I take piano lessons that I really fell in love. It was 1972, and I was 13, trying to find out who I was, like any other teenager. Mom made me and my three brothers take at least one year of piano lessons. I was the only one who continued after the first year. I took eight years of lessons and got most of my musical training on the piano. I played for musical groups in both high school and college and often in church settings. I never really wanted to take up the guitar. All my friends played the guitar, and I was the only one who could really play the piano, so I carved out my identity on that instrument and tried to be different.
When I left home to go to college, I continued my musical training on the piano, but the piano on which I first learned to play remained at my parents' house. Here it is, the Baldwin spinet I loved so dearly.
As the time approached for me to leave for Africa in 1984, I realized that I wasn't going to be able to haul a piano all over the world. Affordable electronic pianos were just beginning to appear on the market at that point, but I still couldn't justify the price nor the astronomical shipping costs. So, I taught myself to play the guitar, a much more portable instrument. Over the years, I have enjoyed the guitar, and as my skills on the piano got rusty, my guitar abilities got better.
But I always considered the piano my first instrument and longed for the day when I could have constant access to one. I ran across pianos in Africa and in the US and would play whenever the opportunity arose, but in all my adult life (33 years) I have never owned a piano. Until now.
Before dad died, my parents and I had discussed the possibility of giving me the old piano that had sat in their house all these years. The problem was we had no place to store it and couldn't haul it to Africa. Pianos like that don't work well in the tropics. Then a few months ago I ran into a Christian man who operates a music store and repairs musical instruments. He suggested we trade mom and dad's old upright for a newer electronic version. Both are used, but both are still valuable instruments. And all we would have to do would be to pay for the shipping.
For five years, I have been praying that the Lord would give me my piano back. He has done that beyond my wildest imaginations. On March 20, we picked up the new (used) piano from our friend. It's not fancy and doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles. But it's what I have needed for a long time. Now I can rehone my skills and get better.
Now I'm headed to England to start a doctoral program. I won't have my piano (nor my guitar) with me, but the subject of my studies will be music, specifically, ethnomusicology (a branch of anthropology), the study of ethnic music played in various cultures. I'll be taking a more intense look at the Songhai people and their music, and I'm really excited. I leave tomorrow (March 24) for Oxford.
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