I believe in music.
I come from a family of musicians – or, really, musical people. My grandparents met in the All-State Band and Chorus – my grandfather played the tuba, and my grandmother played the French horn, the glockenspiel, and timpani. She also played the piano, and would have gone to the New England Conservatory of Music with her talent had she not met my grandfather first.
In high school, their daughter – my mother – played the trombone. My dad wasn’t brought up musically, but decided in his mid-forties to learn to play the piano. A few years before, when I had been in kindergarten, I had begun taking lessons. My sister plays the saxophone, and channels Barbara Streisand (among other singers) when she gets bored. Somewhat less-gifted, I sing more operatic showtunes, songs from My Fair Lady and West Side Story. When my family calls various relatives to wish them a happy birthday, we sing the birthday song in harmony.
For me, music is my release. Whenever I’m wired, or bored, or having a bad day, I’ll sit down and pound out my emotions on the piano. It doesn’t matter what song, as long as I can play it at high-speed – all I need is something through which my emotions can channel. Often, when it’s a song I know well, I don’t even think – I just allow myself to get swept up by the music, by the sounds reverberating around our tiny piano room.
The first summer I was away at camp, I didn’t have a piano. For nearly a week, all of my stress churned and bubbled up inside me, just waiting to overflow. I would tap out chords on tabletops and think longingly of our upright Yamaha at home. When I finally got permission from one of my counselors to use the piano at the camp, all of my problems seemed to evaporate immediately, leaving me alone with the keyboard. That summer was the first time I really discovered music, discovered my love for it – and discovered people who shared that love with me. Shy and lonely, it was that connection that turned my camp into a second home. Camp would be a completely different place if not for the music.
Hans Christian Anderson once said, “Where words fail, music speaks.” This is something I hold to be completely and entirely true. When I was younger, and I’d felt powerful emotions welling up inside me, I’d wished for an ability that would allow me to share that emotion with others. Over the years, I’ve discovered that music is that ability. Music reaches people emotionally on a level that words never will. Not only can a person convey emotion through other people’s songs – they can also convey it in a way that is completely their own, by writing their own music. Music is their superpower, as, I believe, it has become mine.
And I am eternally grateful for it.