Growing up, I never had the opportunity to learn an instrument or take music classes. My exposure to music came primarily through pop songs. However, I quickly realized my limitations when I attempted to sing along at karaoke nights (listeners’ nightmare). The thought of becoming confident and patient enough to learn an instrument seemed unimaginable.
While aging can be uncomfortable at times (e.g., the wrinkles creeping in on the face), it also appears to bring valuable additions to life. As I’ve grown older, I found myself with an insatiable curiosity to explore a wide range of new things, including sports, arts, and music. I have no specific goal in mind for my learning endeavors; I’m simply relishing the process. Part of my afterwork life now includes enrolling in various lessons. I jokingly refer to this as my mid-life crisis, but in a positive sense – I want to learn all the intriguing things before my body is too fragile or my mind can’t work fast. I genuinely enjoy learning and have set a rule for myself: I must commit to at least 15 lessons for anything I start.
My journey into learning the piano began with an entry-level class offered at my university. It proved to be a unique and fascinating experience. As someone with a background in science and engineering, I’m accustomed to classes with clear-cut answers, often grounded in formulas and logic. However, my first semester of piano classes was different. My instructor possessed a romantic soul, and some of our lessons involved us standing up and swaying to the beat, counting along. At times, she would assign a topic, and we had to express it through our music. It was mind-blowing to witness the diversity in interpretations, with no single correct answer. For instance, one in-class assignment was to play the sounds of a starry night. Some played playfully, making it feel like a sky filled with winking stars, while others played with tranquility, offering a sense of peace. It was all so different, a truly romantic assignment for someone like me from an engineering background.
I was also amazed to discover that, despite my proficiency in math, I struggled with grasping beats and measures with my hands. It felt like my fingers were in rebellion against my mind, but it was incredibly fun. This experience opened up a new world for me, filled with endless learning possibilities. I gained a newfound appreciation for all forms of art. It became evident to me just how much effort artists put into mastering their craft even before creating something unique of their own. In a sense, this learning journey has humbled me down to earth, reminding me that there is so much I don’t know in many areas and so many people I can learn from.
Although I haven’t had experience with other musical instruments, I believe the piano is my favorite. The piano is a complete entity in itself, rich in its combinations. Even in isolation, its music can be profoundly rich and layered. I aspire to be like the piano, complete in my own self, whether with or without companion instruments. Currently, I am in my second level of piano classes. This semester, I’ve been delving into reading sheet music and playing simple songs. I’ve encountered challenges in reading and playing simultaneously and mastering the right timescale. However, it brings me immense joy to see that universal rules apply once again: the more you practice, the better you become. Commitment and dedication are the keys to success in any subject, endeavor, or even relationships.
Music, and all other forms of art, provide powerful avenues to connect with our emotions and others. I am still taking baby steps on this musical journey, but the joy I’ve experienced is unparalleled. It’s as if a part of me has been reborn. The realization that both my mind and body can continue to grow in my late thirties in a realm filled with countless unknowns is truly delightful and exciting. In reality, I am growing older, but in another sense, I feel rejuvenated through the act of learning and challenging myself. This new journey seems to forge an upgraded version of me – someone who is not only a logical engineer by profession but also a humble, authentical, resilient, joyful, and emotionally attuned woman.
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