Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Business of the Soul

I love the way my piano teacher and I talk about the act of playing piano, as though it is a business—something very necessary, very serious.

“Now, if you hold the middle peddle down lightly, very lightly, just half way, you see like this? The sound will stick to the walls around the room. It coats the whole place. You hear that?”

She halfway closes one eye as if looking at something far away and holds a finger in the air for me to watch. As though my watching her finger means I’m hearing what she is hearing. She is not strict, never strict. Just serious about the music.

(I love the way all these paintings look--like the people are studying something very meticulously, with so much care, as if every detail were crucial, like a science)

I like this because piano is clearly something for the soul. We would still be living and breathing without it, as we would without all kinds of art. But that is all we would be doing—living and breathing.
The “necessary” or “practical” majors or fields of study, I have never had much interest in those. Don’t get me wrong—I did just have a colonoscopy last week for goodness sake—I know I need the people who engineer new kinds of medicine and what not. But I’ll leave that up to them. I just wonder if they know they need us? “Us” being the artists—if I can go as far as to call myself one. While I don’t engineer or do mathematical proofs, I do still have to go to work, go to school, stand in line at the bank…do the humdrum stuff we all take a pause from our lives to do in order to be alive. But, my soul has to be in the right place in order for me to do all the other things I do simply to keep my body alive. That is why I love people who take the business of the soul seriously, like my piano teacher.


  1. Reminds me of something Harry Truman had said about his ambition in life...he had wanted to be either a piano player at a whorehouse or a politician and said that he could hardly tell the difference between the two...As for Hitler, let's not forget that he had initially wanted to be an artist but failed...and that's why he turned to orchestrating the Holocaust...

  2. Purple Cow, I'm afraid I'm not sure what you're getting at here...

    I suppose both these guys gave up on the business of the soul? well, it sounds like Truman only associated the soul with sin anyhow. did that man ever have a therapist?

  3. Hi Props! Thanks for your sweet comment at my blog, much appreciated. I've been reading yours and wanted to comment on nearly all of them, but shied away...but piano playing and my piano teacher when I was young...that truly IS for the Soul. It was hard for me past a certain time when I just wanted to play boogie woogie and then blues or rock instead of Paderewski's Minute in G ... and I never did learn the piano keyboard like I did the typewriter (yes, they did exist once) or the keyboard as I type on. I type 120 wpm, and my typing teacher was a bitch and I didnt' like her at all, even though I did really well, she was like a drill sergeant, which apparently was great for learning something hard-wired into my brain ... but my piano teacher, she was elderly and white-haired and sweet, I remember giving her an old fashioned black teacup and saucer with roses painted on it and little feet on the cup ... she never acted pissed if I hadn't practiced something very well, and never MADE me do anything (unfortunately) but I still like to play the blues and I like to make up what I call "Chinese music" on the black keys ... and just love making songs and pieces up that sometimes I adapt to poems I've written, etc. As a writer, you must have written things that you can put a tune to, eh? It's quite rewarding just honing your skill of being YOU ... and your inquisitive self, who finds joy each day, will do well to keep appreciating any and all beauty you find within you and around you.
    Best to you from your SisSTAR xo