I’m in a period of transition. There seem to be a lot of endings in my life right now, including an emotional one today. When you have a baby, you have years full of firsts – first tooth, first step, first day of school. Then, after a while, you start to realize there are lasts coming along.
This afternoon saw my 14-year-old son’s last piano lesson with the teacher who has guided him through half a lifetime of musical growth. The phrase “piano lessons” doesn’t convey what a gift our household has received from his weekly sessions with a wonderful mentor. I remember his very first time at the piano, with his little legs swinging from the bench, feet far from reaching the floor, as he learned to pick out a short tune on a few of the black keys only. Week by week, his knowledge and love of music grew, until he was composing his own pieces.
A few months ago, my son told me he didn’t know exactly what he wanted to do in life, but he knew it had to involve music. I know little about music, but he’s getting deep into music theory and explaining things to me that have been over my head. He saved his money and bought software that will allow him to work with composing and mixing on the computer. Last summer, when he was out of school, it wasn’t unusual for him to spend four or five hours in a day on his music.
Today, he told me that music has filled a gap in his life. He said he knows he’s never been good at carrying on conversations (he has auditory processing difficulties, so conversation is often difficult for him), but he can use music as a second language to express himself. I know it’s helped him through some rough patches and helped his confidence.
But with this growth has come an interest in expanding his skill set. One of his cousins gifted him a used guitar a while back, and he wants to learn to play that now. Neither time nor money will permit two sets of concurrent music lessons. So he’s switching to guitar for now. He promises me he’ll still play piano at home.
I sat in on his last lesson. He’s progressed from a small, round-faced child plunking out the 15-second song a key at a time to a deep-voiced young man with a newly noticeable shadow on his upper lip, who towers over both his teacher and me. He agreed to play Metamorphosis II by Philip Glass one last time for his teacher before he left. It was beautiful.