The Reluctant Musician

The year was 2001. I was 11 years old. Alicia Keys’ “Fallin’” had hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and congruently, was being played on every radio station, a few times an hour, all summer long. I would sit in the passenger’s seat of my dad’s car, and boast how much my lung capacity had expanded since I started singing the bridge (where layers of Alicia’s voice cascade in harmony for 15 seconds) as though it were a sound made with one breath.

I believe it was that December that my parents gave me a keyboard as a gift. My parents recall that I pleaded for this particular keyboard for Christmas; my memory is of it being a total surprise.

I like to imagine that many a musician’s journey begins with the wondrous discovery of an old instrument in the attic, sparking a inextinguishable passion for making sounds. Ever the reluctant musician, this could not have been further from my reality.

I was quickly enrolled in piano lessons, so as not to let the shiny new keyboard go unused, and I did actually enjoy it. I still vividly recall the terror I felt as I was bout to step out on stage for my first recital. 

My piano teacher was a kind and patient older gentleman, who I was really growing to like. Naturally, music students are often encouraged to sing along as they learn to read music; I was no different. Immediately following the lesson in which my piano instructor first asked me to sing, he remarked, “You should really take voice lessons.”

“He obviously thinks I that I am so bad at piano that he doesn't want to teach me,” I thought. Insecurity prevailed, rendering me incapable of seeing another possible intention. Years later, I reflected on that interaction, and realized that the kind and patient piano instructor might have actually paid me a compliment—at worst, he might have simply seen an opportunity to coax a new student into taking an additional course at the music & dance school.

Fast forward fifteen years. I relieved a friend (who was downsizing in preparation for a major relocation) of a forlorn guitar. The guitar remained neglected for over two years, until I dusted it off for my first lesson. Since then, once a week, nearly every week, I sit with my instructor as he bestows a bit of his seemingly endless musical knowledge upon me. Those lessons have been an absolute sanctuary.

As my journey with music progresses, my sense of what I am capable of—in every respect—evolves. I’m excited to see where this path may lead.