Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Just Begun

 Dancing with Danger is just begun. What does this mean? In order to answer, I have to go back to my years in New England. During our time in the east, we were fortunate to find a wonderful piano teacher. I remember the first time I trudged down the stairs to his studio. Although he never smoked during lessons, his house was permeated with the effects of excessive nicotine. As a non-smoker with asthmatic children, I was ready to check this teacher off our list. Since we had scheduled this audition, I choose to stay.

As my daughter played and did as Jack commanded, I sat and watched. I forgot the stale smell of cigarettes and sat mesmerized, realizing that I was in the presence of a master teacher. I had a degree in education and had taught for years, but I'd never experienced anything so amazing. He was a gifted pianist, but it was more than his talent and his love for music that touched me.

Three of our children developed into excellent pianists as they sat at the grand piano squeezed into his basement studio. I look back on those years and cherish what Jack taught me and my children. I've incorporated many of his favorite phrases in my teaching, "Use your other right hand," and "I'm glad I was looking out the window and didn't see your fingering."

One concept that fascinated me was Jack's way of dealing with finished pieces. He never said that the children were done with any music. Instead, he informed them this sonata or prelude was just begun. The song which had been practiced and studied could now be set aside and taken out to be improved upon at some future date. It was just begun.

After we moved away, our communication was limited to Christmas Cards. Over the years, Jack developed a brain tumor. Following his surgery, he was left without the use of his right hand as well as diminished technique skills. Instead of giving up, Jack retrained his left hand to play and even wrote music for one handed piano. Jack proved to me that life is just begun.

Whatever we do in life can be done better later on. Our greatness is just begun. Jack put into practice his beliefs and taught me that there is a newness in everything we pick up and do again. Today is the time to go out and be better than we've ever been before, the time to accept where we are now and never believe that we can't improve.

So to you, Jack, I say, my latest novel, Dancing with Danger is just begun.