The Piano

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There I sat on the piano bench, leather sticky where shorts ended and legs began, and all I could think was, "No, please don't make me learn that." The piece was Burgmüller's Ballade, the time somewhere around my twelfth birthday. The song was beautiful, showcased as my teacher's cupped palms and nimble fingers flew across the keys. Unfortunately, I hated it. My shoulders slumped in boredom, eyes glazing over as my mind wandered to other important 12-year-old matters, such as finally beating that boy in tennis, or composing classic fart jokes with which to regale my best friends. However, because I was young and daunted by my teacher, learning Ballade became my focus for the next two months.

The song had two parts with which to torture me. The first is fast-paced and technical. It recalls images of racing feet and swarming ants and angry, driving rain. The second would blend flawlessly in the party scene of the Nutcracker, with the quick swish of lacy dresses dancing across the floor of a vast, opulent ballroom. Unsurprisingly, sixth-grade me had a little trouble relating. When I sat listening to my teacher play a song that I would grow to despise, my reluctance to play it had nothing to do with laziness, and everything to do...

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