Wednesday, May 9, 2012

the things we think about

Matisse's The Piano Lesson

As an artist, we do lots of different things to get by to do our craft, to have the freedom to think and respond openly.  Aside from teaching college classes I substitute teach to make extra money to travel.  Today, I was at Service High School filling in for the choir teacher.  Her classroom was this theatre arena laced with chairs in a semi circle that grew in tiers and in the center was the Grand Piano.  This setting took me back to my piano teacher named Mrs. Corio who lived in Neptune City on Slyvania Avenue in New Jersey.  As a fifteen year old, my mother would faithfully drop me off at her home every week while I had my hour long lesson.  I taught myself how to read music early on in my childhood.  We had a modest standard Baldwin piano growing up.  When I lived in Los Angeles, I bought a Haddorf with ivory keys.  My former husband owns it now in lieu of my absence.

 Art is puzzle solving, an engagement of the mind focusing on the unconscious level; more or less it can be termed as the abstract piecing together ideas into forming concrete tangible statements.  Piano lessons taught me about discipline and applying the mind while reading a barrage of flats, sharps, tempos and at the same time learning how to touch the keys and translate the feelings that were present in the piece.  Playing music put me in touch with a variety of waltzes, Russian and Hungarian folk polkas and fantasy melancholic landscapes.  The piano taught me great drama, expression and it was when I had my first recital on stage.  My mother was always present at these affairs.  When I played my recital piece it was a fast and furious display of memorization and it was also to be my last formal music performance.  I loved looking through the foreign language of classical music books that our piano bench contained holding the mystery of an obscured beauty in papers.

How often we take these experiences for granted and I realized today how I had long forgotten Mrs. Corio.  She was a good teacher and possibly one of my first unrecognized art mentors.  While she was strict, she also had a great sense of humor; am not sure if she liked me (or if I liked her either), but she enjoyed extending her knowledge, was sincere, and passionate while passing on her skills of what she knew about music.  Who could have cared?  Today, I thought about the piano that I grew up with in our household.  It was an instrument of learning.  Years ago, I had learned that Mrs. Corio died of cancer.  Presently, I don't miss the piano though because  I opted to become a painter.  This activity is more of a natural expression to me but the notes, signs, and symbols that I learned from reading music often appear in my canvasses today.