Music Lessons

John at the piano, a few years before beginning lessons.
John at the piano, a few years before beginning lessons.

Music Lessons
By John Unger Zussman

Last month, I wrote about a misguided art lesson that undermined my creativity as a child. Here I recall my early music lessons—with a decidedly different result.

“Sing!” commanded my piano teacher, Mrs. Maas, at my very first lesson. Even at seven, I understood that she did not want me to vocalize along with those first simple explorations of the notes around middle C. No, she meant make the piano sing. But what did that mean? And how to do it? I had no idea, and apparently it was too obvious to ask.

Whatever she had in mind, I somehow had a talent for it. I practiced diligently and progressed quickly, encouraged by the lavish praise of my parents and teachers. At my first-year recital, Mrs. Maas practically had to drag me off the stage as I played, from memory, every piece in the Bernice Frost first-year method book READ MORE