My First Year Back

Documenting the Ups and Downs of Piano Practice

“Piano Keys” by Victoria Henderson via Creative Commons.
After a 10-year hiatus, I’ve recently made a recommitment to piano practice. For my first year back, I’ll be documenting the ups and downs of my pursuits on GRAND PIANO PASSION™ every month.

I started taking piano lessons at age six. I don’t remember deciding to start playing, and I don’t remember deciding to continue; it was just something that I did, week after week, for 12 years, without knowing how lucky I was. From Bartók all the way on up to Chopin, I would practice at our Charles R. Walter upright while my dad tried to watch TV in the next room.

During college I occasionally took advantage of the pianos around campus, not really attempting to learn anything new, but replaying the Chopin, Debussy, and Bach pieces that I had been working on around the time I turned 18 and stopped lessons. It was as if my piano abilities were frozen in time. Meanwhile, I branched out, joining a campus Javanese gamelan group in which we tapped out meditative, clockwork melodies on metallophones and gongs.

None of those things made me feel like I was doing much of anything. I found myself longing for the piano keys.

A couple of years after college, I started to feel that something was missing from my life. I would leave my nine-to-five job every day to browse the internet, watch TV, read, listen to music, eat, shop, meet friends for drinks or events, volunteer, explore different neighborhoods. But none of those things made me feel like I was doing much of anything. I found myself longing for the piano keys.

A piano is not an easy thing to fit into the lifestyle of an unsettled 20-something in New York City. I could have gotten a keyboard, but never felt I could justify the cost of one of the nicer ones. Besides, I didn’t know what I would be investing in, exactly—my happiness?

It took me a few more years to figure out that my happiness was actually a valid investment opportunity. I also realized that revisiting old favorite pieces was not going to do it for me: I needed to commit to learning new pieces, to practicing piano, not just aimless playing.

So for now, until I get a piano at home, I am practicing once a week at a music studio. And even after my first practice session, I knew that it was exactly what I had been craving.

I am excited to join the ranks of dedicated amateur pianists and adult piano students here on GRAND PIANO PASSION™, and I look forward to hearing from readers on my journey.

Copyright © 2018 Nancy M. Williams. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Good for you! I was a piano major in college but only played sporadically during the years since, until I made the commitment to start practicing again about 8 months ago. The piano pulls lots of us back in after years of doing other things and pursuing other goals. I am 61 years old and am looking forward to retiring from my job as a lawyer so I can work on my piano playing full time!

  2. Fantastic to hear and so inspiring. Im 56 and loving my work in my earning years, although it brings less hours of being with piano than I’d otherwise prefer…So I do what I can at snail’s pace and the idea of better than nothing becomes exponentially far greater through my love for music. It’s a wonderful world!

    • So glad to hear that you enjoyed the article! I love this idea that your love for music makes the time that you can put in exponentially greater! So inspiring.

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