Hi everybody! It’s Haley, and this week I went to my first piano lesson!
Before we moved to Panama, I took piano lessons. When we moved, I never got the chance to play the piano because of multiple reasons. 1.) Even if we had wanted to buy a keyboard/piano, there weren’t any for sale. ANYWHERE. 2.) As far as I know, there was no piano teacher in Pedasi. 3.) I was way too busy with all the schooling and activities, so I probably wouldn’t have even had the time. But when I found out that we were going to be in Mexico for quite a while, I got excited. I might be able to play the piano again!
When we moved to Mexico, I made it perfectly clear that I desperately wanted a piano or a keyboard or ANYTHING. I turned half of all our conversations into talking about getting me one. I made offers, I pleaded, I even tried bribing. On Christmas morning, I noticed a certain peculiarly-shaped box, and when I checked who it was for, it confirmed my suspicions. I finally had a keyboard again!
One month later, here I was, in a taxi to my first piano lesson in Mexico. We had to take a taxi because the car was being fixed. I was finally going to play the piano again! The piano instructor’s house was slightly hard to find, but having lived in Panama, we’ve been through worse. It was easier because we were in a taxi, but we still didn’t quite know where the house was, because it didn’t have an address. My mom texted the instructor, and he told us that there’s a yellow Atos (whatever that is) in front of the house. Sure enough, I spotted the yellow car and we sat in front of the house for a few minutes while waiting for the instructor to unlock the door/gate-thing in front. The taxi driver said he’d wait until we were sure we were in the right place. I’m not sure why, but maybe it wasn’t the right neighborhood for two lost gringas?
When he came down, he greeted us both with a kiss on the cheek (which still catches me off guard and surprises me to this day) and invited us into the house. We went up a set of steep concrete stairs and arrived into an open living room-type area connected to a terrace covered in potted plants outside. We walked into a small room with a comfortable white couch and a bunch of bookshelves above it. The bookshelves had tons and tons of piano books, music sheets, and little manger scenes on them. In the corner was an electric piano, and in the other corner was a sink. I like to wash my hands a lot so I appreciated the sink. There was no A/C, which always kind of scares me at first when I walk into a room, but it was only slightly warm in the room, so I was comfortable.
The instructor was very, very outgoing and nice. He was a relatively short man with just a little bit of chub, and he had his hair in a ponytail. He was very smiley, and seemed pretty excited to teach me, but I think that might have had something to do with him being able to practice English with me and mom. Between our introduction in person and going through his Facebook page, we learned that he was very religious, (hence all the manger scenes on the bookshelves), he had gone to college in the US, he’s a conductor, and he teaches piano and singing.
Since he had gone to college in the US, he spoke English, so he explained things in English for the first 30 minutes or so, but then figured out that I could understand him perfectly fine in Spanish, so he switched over to Spanish for the rest of the lesson.
I sat down on the bench in front of the piano while he sat down in a swivelly chair next to it. It made sense that he sat there, because the bench was too small for two people, and he was very fidgety, so it helped that he was able to swirl around in the chair.
Before the lesson started, I told him I had been working on some songs that I really liked from YouTube tutorials and such, so I showed him some and we got started. He asked me what kind of songs and pieces I wanted to learn, but I told him it had been a long time since I had played the piano, so we started to relearn the basic notes that I forgot over the two years I hadn’t played anything. He told me what the different types of notes are called on the staff, and me and mom had a good laugh. In the US, we call them quarter notes, half notes, whole notes, and so on, depending on how long they’re played. In Mexico, they name them by their looks. The quarter note is called the negro, because it’s a filled-in note, the half note is the blanco, because it’s white on the inside, and so on. Me and mom thought that was super funny.
When I started to tell him the names of the notes, he explained to me that they do it a bit differently in Mexico. Here, they use the Do-Re-Mi scale, not the C-D-E-F-G-A-B scale, which I had been using in Arizona. So we spent the next ten minutes or so learning the Do-Re-Mi scale, then he had me play some lines of music. Except, it wasn’t that easy. He told me to sing the note at the same time. So I had my brain doing all sorts of things; reading the note on the page, finding the note on the piano, singing it at the same time, and making sure my voice was at the same note as the piano. Needless to say, it was really hard work. I’m going to start calling the piano the pain-o.
When it was time to go, I said that I almost reached out to turn the piano off (because I was so used to my keyboard at home) and he laughed and said that the piano actually is plugged in. Apparently, in this area of Mexico, pianos have hot rods inside them to keep the humidity to a minimum inside the piano. Cool, right? (Pun intended.)
I am definitely looking forward to going to class in the future. I have a feeling this is the start of something great!