The Mozart Effect
A week ago, a colleague of mine remarked: “Val, you should start listening to classical music now.” I’ve always been fond of classical music, a fondness developed because of years of piano lessons.
My dad dreamt of his little girls (my other sister and brother weren’t born yet) becoming pianists, so, while other kids danced ballet and had art lessons, we walked to the SOJ Music Studio every Saturday afternoon. It was a scenic 5 min walk away from our house where we would skip with glee seeing horses grazing on the empty lots in our subdivision. My younger sister and I walked on unaccompanied and unhurried by the concerns and fears of adults. (On a sidenote, I don’t think our kids will enjoy the freedoms we had as children. That walk from our house to the piano studio of Mrs. Javellana in the neighboring subdivision wouldn’t be considered safe, these days.)
I started at age 6 and quit at age 13. I say quit because if it were up to my dad, I’d have continued on til just before college. I wasn’t in love with playing the piano. While my sister had a passion for it, I just played because I had to.
We were blessed with a wonderful teacher in Mrs. Javellana. Her love for the art transcended her teaching and through her I learned to read musical notes. She even gave us random quizzes to test our learning.
I wasn’t a very dutiful student though. I memorized pieces so that I wouldn’t need to read the notes every time. I didn’t do much practicing at home and played the piano only when Daddy requested us to. I’m sure there were a lot of times she got frustrated with me but she remained gentle and patient with me. She employed old school methods to improve my playing style. For example, she used to hold a sharpened pencil under my wrists while I played to remind me to keep it up. (I had another piano teacher before her and had developed a bad habit of keeping my wrists down while playing).
My piano playing life lasted until I was in second year high school. One day, Mrs. J, getting a little exasperated at her student who after years of lessons didn’t seem to improve much, said: “Do you think your parents just pick up the money for your piano lessons on the street?. That marked my last day as a piano student.
While there are days when I wish I had taken my piano lessons seriously, I feel that they were meant to teach me a lesson life. Those early piano lessons taught me that practice makes perfect, that nothing in life worth anything come easy as success requires hard work. Mrs. J’s love for her craft showed me the importance of finding one’s passion, the joy of doing what you love every day of your life.
My dad tried to get to go back for organ lessons but I lasted only a mere month. I had yet to find my passion. I was a lost soul and would be for a number more years. It wasn’t until law school that I found myself. High school was a period of learning. College was all about belonging. I had a magical time with Kausap (my school org) finding out the person I was meant to be. It was a time where I tested my boundaries, found out what worked and what didn’t. I realized in college that I wouldn’t be content until I was able to live a life with purpose, to make some difference in someone’s life. And law school, and lawyering, well, it has allowed me to do just that. I guess my passion is that–to live life to the fullest, to have a life that matters. I am blessed to finally be in a position to make a difference. There’s so much more I need to learn and I am taking it one day at a time.
I listen to a stream of Mozart’s concertos hoping that my baby will grow up with an appreciation of the beauty of life. Once again, I say a quick prayer to our Lord to keep him or her safe and normal. A happy Saturday morning to us all.