November 16, 2011

And the world has somehow shifted

With-a-Why was in second grade when he said to me, “I want to take piano lessons.”

He was a painfully shy child. He did fine in school — it was pretty clear that he was academically gifted — but I don’t think his classroom teacher even knew what his voice sounded like. I tried to imagine this child staying after school to take piano lessons, and I couldn’t imagine him talking to the piano teacher.

“Are you sure?” I asked. “You’d have to sometimes talk to the teacher.” He said nothing. Then he went over to the piano and played Ode to Joy, something he’d learned from watching his older brother.

“I want to learn to play the piano,” he said.

So I signed him up for lessons with the young woman who worked at his school as a music teacher. She was already teaching my two oldest kids, and she said she’d be happy take him on as well. I warned her that he was shy, but she knew that already. She was kind of shy herself so they were a good match.

With-a-Why loved piano right from the start. When his first music teacher moved away, I found another music teacher, but I wondered again if his shyness would be a problem.

“He’s really shy,” I said to the teacher. She was a beautiful, confident woman with a lovely voice. “He doesn’t talk to many people outside the family.”

“I love shy kids,” she said. “You are so lucky to have a shy child.” I knew then that I’d found the right teacher.

Since then With-a-Why has played for many recitals and exams. He plays classical music, mostly, and he’s known for playing superfast, his fingers dancing over the keys.

More recently, his grandfather has convinced to sing in front of people too. When he signed up for choir this year in eleventh grade, the choir director soon discovered his piano playing ability.

At the concert last week, With-a-Why stepped down out of the choir to take his spot at the grand piano and accompany the choir. They were singing “I see the light” from the movie Tangled. What amazed me wasn’t so much his playing – it’s a song he can play easily – but the poise with which he sat down in front of hundreds of people and began playing.

In the crowded auditorium, I watched him – a lanky young man dressed in a dress shirt and black pants, his shoulder-length dark hair hanging down his back and his hands moving confidently over the keys. He’s come a long way from the shy little boy who learned first learned music by standing quietly and watching his siblings at the piano.


Lilian said...


Does Smart Wonderful Beautiful Daughter play the piano too? Or is it just for the boys in the family? ;)

jo(e) said...

Yep, my daughter plays the piano beautifully. She doesn't play as often as she used to, but she was actually the first of the kids to take lessons.

Sally said...


Magpie said...

good story about the power of music. it is, after all, another way to communicate.

liz said...


robin andrea said...

A wonderful story.

kathy a. said...

obviously, piano is not one of those things he is shy about. :)

Zhoen said...

Perhaps not so much shy as an introvert.

jo(e) said...

Zhoen: Oh, you're right about him being an introvert. He's like my husband in that regard.

I was very shy as a child, but as an adult, I'm extremely extroverted.

We have the whole spectrum in this household.

Jodie said...

I love this story.

Some people's hearts need a language other than speech to express themselves. We sometimes call them "shy".

I think it's just a heart condition.