by Nancy Kay Grace, Miss September 2016
Learning begins in our early days of life and continues through to the end.
In college, I studied human development and grew an appreciation for how we grow, change and learn.
I continue to learn a variety of things, such as creating new recipes, blogging, writing a book and releasing it, using technology, visiting different cultures, and studying the Word of God, to name a few.
One skill that I continue to develop is piano. I started lessons when I was 13, after I already knew how to read music. My parents were hesitant to purchase a piano because of the cost, for fear that my brother and I would not continue with it. Both of us proved our parents wrong, as music has been an important part of our lives to this day.
Piano became a refuge for my sanity throughout the uncertain years of high school and turbulent home life. As my skill improved, I found peace through moving my fingers over the keys playing songs like Bridge Over Troubled Waters.
My piano study continued several semesters into college, until I no longer could fit it into my schedule. I knew I would take more lessons…someday.
I married my college sweetheart. Knowing my love for piano, he surprised me by purchasing a used piano six months into our new marriage. I still found time to play, although not regularly due to learning adult life with a job and home. I still knew there was more to learn.
Fast-forward a decade. In my early thirties, with two young children, I found a piano teacher who could explain improvisation. My desire was ripe to build upon my classical foundation. Four months of lessons revitalized and totally changed my style of piano playing. I continue to draw upon those lessons today.
Improvisation showed me there is more than one way to do something. It has challenged my creativity to step out of my comfort zone. This has been a valuable skill to adapt to many areas of life, not only music.
Fast-forward a few more decades. My piano has moved from Illinois, to Kansas, and to Arkansas. Several years ago we inherited an antique baby grand from my husband’s family. It needed a lot of work when we got it, but we decided the piano was worth the restoration.
Our family has expanded with grandchildren.
When I held our first grandchild, I hummed a new melody to him.
After returning home from that sweet visit, I figured out the song on the grand, putting words to the tune.
Tears filled my eyes, with gratitude for the gift of new life combined with the gift of music. I’ve sung that lullaby blessing to each of my five grandchildren.
Playing piano brings joy and peace to my soul. It is where I can release and express emotions. I love playing exuberant Christmas music. After each biopsy or cancer diagnosis, I prayed through my fingers, playing peaceful hymns.
In the past few years, I’ve started giving piano lessons to pass on my love for music and piano. Also, I play in the worship band at church each week, growing in the skill of playing a digital keyboard.
There is much to learn about music and piano. Studies have shown it improves your brainpower and calms your emotions. The skill can be learned over a lifetime. I plan to keep my fingers moving on the keys for decades to come.