Two to three decades ago, I remember staying after school and waiting for a woman who dressed like a penguin with high-pitched voice to learn how to play the piano. During those days, I actually thought all nuns played the piano.
If my memory serves me right, I had more fun waiting for our piano teacher than actually learning how to play the instrument. While waiting for the piano classes, my classmates and I told all scary tales about headless nuns playing the piano. We imagined hearing keys sounding off without anybody playing the grand instrument which frightened us even more. That was more exciting than sitting for a full nerve-wracking hour trying to remember what finger to use in what key.
I did not really want to learn how to play the musical instrument then. It was due to my parents' prodding that my siblings and me had to learn how to play the piano. Well, it was either learning how to play the piano or learning ballet. Between the two choices, either fingering through the keys or tiptoeing in tutus, the former proved to be more manageable to me then.
This is not a conclusive or documented finding, but learning how to play the piano appealed to people back then because it has something to do with culture, class and finesse. For indeed, there was a point in the history of piano music which was considered to be prestigious and elitist. Well, my parents had the exact mindset about learning how to play the piano. And I guess every parent would want to see these attributes in their children. That was probably why I did not learn beyond fingering do-re-mi before I finally gave up on it and missed the scary stories altogether.
Learning how to play the piano in these contemporary times has evolved. The various realities of the new age piano music may be summed up through the following:
Learning how to play the piano has undergone transformation in its purpose and orientation. Parents do not prod anymore for their kids to learn how to play the instrument for traditional reasons. In fact, the children, themselves, are the ones seeking to learn how to play music. And playing one instrument like the piano is more encouraging and inspiring.
Learning the piano need not be confined in schools with nuns as its teachers. Piano instructors have become younger and more contemporary in style and approach. Piano lessons are more accessible anywhere. It is even accessible interactively online.
The contribution of piano music to the new generation has opened a brand new breed of musicians. We have young pianists who have become independent from the traditional way of playing the piano. These individuals have developed a new brand of their own way of creating piano music. And we have in these contemporary times, our own Mozarts establishing their own identities in the music world.
The style of piano music bears forth the artist's reflection of his contemporary world. This inspires one to step out of the demands of the contemporary setting and to reflect life's ultimate calling.
If I was not born decades and decades ago, I would have learned how to play the piano and enjoyed it. I am not about to engage into a debate with anyone, but I find learning these days more dynamic and fun. On hindsight though, I am glad I was born before this age, for I get to live today when I can still learn and be the storyteller of headless nuns playing the piano.