Haunted Music

Yay! Tuesday is quickly becoming my favorite day of the week! Why, you ask?

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IT’S SLICE OF LIFE DAY!

 About this SOL: I’ve been wanting to post this story for awhile, but I’ve been waiting for the right time. The weird thing about writing is that sometimes when I write I am still unsure of what I actually mean. Luckily, I have an awesome writing prof (Everybody say hi to Mike!) who had us watch the well-known TED talk by Ken Robinson on “Why Schools Kill Creativity” Yesterday. As I watched the talk, I realized that the slice that I wrote is all about the unbridled creativity of childhood that we all seem to “grow out of.”  Anyway, this SOL is inspired by my childhood piano lessons, during which I didn’t truly learn to read sheet music until I had been playing for about 5 years. A few weeks ago, I went to observe my old piano teacher’s daughter’s music classroom, and when I entered their house in the morning before school, so many memories of growing up in the arms of the grand piano all unexpectedly hit me at once. This Slice is what happened as a result: 

 Haunted Music
The young girl walks with her chin tilted upward, directly to the book-covered grand piano. She plops her canvas bag haphazardly beside her and climbs onto the bench. Her feet dangle beneath her, unable to touch the ground, swaying like wind chimes in a summer breeze. Her hands fall on the ivory keys like a ballerina’s as she steps up the the barre. She glances over at the woman beside her, a motherly red-head with glasses, and finding encouragement, she closes her eyes and plays. 
     Her fingers dance over the keys like they are puddles meant for jumping in. Her rainboot-fingers tip toe, run , and jump, occasionally stumbling, but she smiles on, a true child at play. She plays fearlessly, fast, and without hesitation. She grins with the confidence and pleasure of someone with the power to create. She is like an artist, painting carelessly just to see the way colors look on the canvas.
I blink, rinsing the last notes of the sonatina out of my head. The girl and her beloved teacher are gone, but the room is like a still life painting – seemingly untouched throughout the years. On top of the piano are the piles of piano books, dog eared and creased from years of soaking up students’ learning. Beside the piano still sits the stiff leather arm chair. The lipstick stained coffee mug waits patiently for the rare moments between students’ eager fingers and performances meant for two. As I sit in the swiveling lazy boy chair, I can hear my mom chastising me. “Sit still!” “Don’t spin!”
     I am haunted by the girl with the crooked smile and the absent two front teeth. She reaches out to me, offering a hand with the wide-eyes look of a girl who is unfamiliar to the shackles of failure – A girl whose ears cling with joy to the way her own music sounds, uninhibited by the prison of strict black slashes and bullets of a crisp sheet of music. I shake my head, knowing that I could never truly return to her, for fear of a wrong note or an extra repeat in a line of music unenclosed the those two simple dots that allow for such a decision. I am too afraid, so I clutch my thin sheets of music to my chest and spin slowly in my chair one last time before I tip-toe out, being careful not to disturb the girl’s music.

 

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Published in: on April 9, 2014 at 3:14 am  Comments (1)  
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My Promise

“Stories aren’t peaceful things. Stories don’t care how shy you are. They don’t care how insecure you are, either. Stories find their way out eventually. All you gotta do is turn ’em loose.”

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
 
I am afraid of writing. No, I am terrified of writing. I’d rather train for a half-marathon (and we all know how I feel about running) than commit myself fully to writing. Promising to write is like promising to cut yourself open to show your internal organs to the people you love most, but instead doing so through the harsh contrast of black branding on a bright, white screen. But that’s not what I’m afraid of, actually. To be completely honest, I am afraid of what the collection of little straight and curved lines will come to say about me. I’m afraid that if I try to make those minuscule shapes mean something, they’ll just fizzle out and flatten, meaningless on the page. I fear that I will reach for the good words (you know, the ones that twinkle and float across the page like a famous name on a marquee) only to find that I am a mere inches away, only able to grasp the faded, dingy words of cliches and classifieds. 
 
But how am I supposed to encourage my students allow themselves to really write when I am too afraid to put my story down in ink? How can I push them to take that leap of faith when I am still standing with my toes curled around the edge of the diving board like a small child, caught between the deep blue water of uncertainty and the ladder of admitting defeat? So, here is my promise to my future students: lets learn to fail together. Who knows; maybe those dim words are actually old glimmering ones just waiting to be dusted off and brought back to life.
 
Special thanks to Holly Mueller, an amazing teacher who inspired my by giving me the advice that, “not only do you have to be a voracious reader, you have to treat your own writing the same way” and who also sent me a copy of the book A Snicker of Magic so I could participate in the author Q&A with her students. The gift of a book is the gift of a whole other world to live in, something I believe to be truly special. 

 

Published in: on March 29, 2014 at 7:27 am  Comments (1)  
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