From Crawling to Striding Pianos

Submitted into Contest #38 in response to: Write a story about someone learning how to play an instrument. ... view prompt



Learning to play the piano is like learning how to walk from crawling. It is not an easy thing. I watch the falls of a little child in her attempt to just start running. But plop she goes and ends up in tears because it hurt her to fail. She is tired of only being able to sit on her pretty little tail.

She decides one day to try standing on her own like a piano player putting her hands on the keys. She moves her hands across the expanse of the piano but not with ease. She tries to build her muscle memory of every song that grabs her attention. And then tries to play it and forgets the chords that belong in each of the structure's sections.

She is forced to start over from the top of the song like the child crawling on all fours trying to change her lifestyle to walking on two. She tries and fails and cries and wails and is left feeling sad and blue. Perhaps she is too hard on herself because at least she tried to do it. How would you actually know that you have greatness if you never try to pursue it?

And so, she sits behind the keys trying to attempt to play the song again. She tries to channel the playing of the great Thelonious Monk in the movie reel screen of her head. He had skills that she only could wish to possess within her own self. She thinks getting through the entirety of a song like the masterpieces he once played would be a true representation of her wealth. As if trying to enhance her skill was not wealth enough. Her fingers hit the wrong key and she can't help but to feel discouraged and cuss.

She digs a little deeper into the music and puts more muscle into it. Like a baby placing her foot on the ground, who uses more strength to try to master her standing movements. She stands and there she is ready to move her feet forward. It is incredible the courage this child has when she feels empowered. She does it without anyone watching her but the TV characters on “Sesame Street.” Her mother doesn’t even have a clue of her child’s attempt at being an athlete.

But Olympic type training is what is being done as she strides from C to C. A "C Jam blues" would be the right song if she could only embed the melody. It’s no secret that playing the piano is not an easy thing. Charles Mingus and Duke Ellington practiced six hours a day to perfect their music. She wants to be as dedicated and tries her best to hone her craft. She studies the theoretical aspects of it to enhance her knowledge of the task. 

She reads the practice books and plays to the best of her ability. She tries to sing along the melody with the chords she plays and reads. And it seems like trying to rub her stomach and tap her head at the same time. The vision of Thelonious Monk playing the piano at the Five Spot takes over her mind. He was part of the house band there, crafting songs like “Round Midnight.” He got a chance to hone his craft while playing live there every night. With him in mind, she tries and falls and tries and plops and climbs again and starts to get stronger. She sits in front of the piano each day just a little bit longer.

Every day seems like a consistent routine as she tries to rehearse the songs she hopes to get through. And, every time she sits at the piano seat, the experience seems fresh and new. Nothing else comes close to the satisfaction of getting through each song. Not even singing which was her first love that she has done all along. She hasn’t even dabbled into the art of cantering for a long time, because lately trying to achieve piano competency has been the trending grind. 

She can’t sit still when trying to achieve what she perceives as greatness. Every time she is able to stand up from her cooing crawls is another 100 on the test. But then again she falls and is back on all fours which causes her to try again to do an encore. Every effort seems a little bit firmer, more confident as she sustains longer strides. She stands again and attempt another melodic journey for a glorious ride. Right foot first, then left, then right again and then suddenly she goes plop. Flat on her face she falls not yet able to walk in like Bud Powell. But, she is stronger than that because her fall never convinces her to stop even after wiping her tears with a towel.

She just keeps on trying to get that very thing that she truly wants. The tunes at heart to play are not just desires, they are melodies that haunt. She hears them in her heart and tries to play many by ear. She comes up with her translation of the sound and tries playing. It is almost as if her purpose is to have her fingers tinkling the keys. It is as if she knows that she simply has to be able to walk on her own two feet.

Like Thelonious walking in through the doors of Minton’s Playhouse and kicking it with Dizzy. Perhaps concocting her own melodies like “52nd Street Theme would keep her busy. As long as she puts time into trying to get better at it. The sound of the song blaring out her Beringer Truth speakers have somewhat of an attractiveness. She plays and listens and tries to correct the mistakes when she hears herself falter. She is no longer a baby who is trying to walk and when she falls, she becomes a baller.

No, she is much more mature now and able to handle her own weight. Her mother no longer has to pick up her spoon for her to feed her the food that is situated on her little plate. She has stamina of her own and tries and starts to succeed more than melodies that are in C. Black and white keys are important to add color to any melody. She even tried soloing beyond the charted course on paper. She feels blessed because she knows that this talent is a gift from the Savior.

She continues being influenced by the art of Thelonious Monk. She realized she has more capabilities than she has yet to pull out her trunk. She continues on in her respective journey of trying to learn and build on her skills and even starts writing her own melodies and musical architectures to build. She feels even more confident than she ever did before. She has learned how to walk, and she no longer fears the experience because of scrapes and bruises from simple falls. She knows there is more to stumbling when leveling up. She knows it as she continues to learn all those accompanying left hand bass piano thumps. 

April 24, 2020 16:51

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Chloe-Ly Grimont
15:55 May 01, 2020

I love the melody you managed to capture with the metaphor as well as the rhymes and musicality!


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Dana Shelton
01:58 Apr 30, 2020

I enjoyed the comparisons in this story! Reminds me of my experience as a kid learning to play.


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