Friday, June 21, 2013

Flashback Friday: a series

 It's the first episode of..."Flashback Friday"!

This weekly series is based on the premise that we are all, individually and collectively, benefactors of women who make change. (follow my tweets #realwomenmakechange). You, my audience member; woman, man, teen, and everyone in between... has been and will continue to be the recipient of advice, mentorship, delicious food, tailored outfits, personal and professional development by and from and administered by

a woman

Here each Friday we will celebrate moments of anecdotal awesomeness stemming from an experience with a woman who makes change.  

Epsiode 1/Pilot: The Pianist.

     It was 4:30 p.m. in the desert. School was finished over an hour ago, I completed two homework assignments, rode 25 miles in a car, and did even get a snack. I was ten years old. My different colored socks pushed my Keds on and off the sustain pedal to the right and the mute pedal on the left (that was my least favorite pedal). The autumn sun permeated through the blinds causing those little dust particles to sparkle in the air like fairy dust, making time stand still. Each Thursday afternoon was spent like this for 30 minutes with Linda Clark, my piano teacher. 

     I grew up taking piano lessons from age 8 to age 13 from my best friend's mom. One year I skewed course and took classical lessons from someone else at hour-long sessions on the other side of town in a Catholic church. That didn't last long. But back to Linda in her rocking chair, post-it notes, and mug of pencils sitting on the piano next to the old-school metronome...

     For a while, maybe two months, I wasn't practicing the way I was supposed to. My sticker chart didn't have many stickers showing I practiced everyday for half an hour at home. My Theory workbook was not worked in... for a whole month! I played from the Performance book (that one had the really fun and catchy tunes). I tinkered with the Technique book (scales and chord transposing was easy). But darn that Theory! 

     When I would practice and play longer pieces, I rarely followed the notation on the sheet music directing which finger should cross on which note and when for the most ergonomic and smooth transition, making the hand movement undetectable to the listeners' ear. Rather, I did what I do best: 
I did what I felt like. 

I crossed my fingers too much. 
I didn't cross soon enough. 
I crossed making staccato notes when they were supposed to be sustained. 
I bounced my wrist to keep time like a metronome.
I didn't practice songs with high octaves because I didn't like reading the notes that high above the staff. 
And sometimes... I didn't even practice. 

     Finally, Linda gave it to me straight. She put my work (or lack thereof) right in front of me and verbalized that I hadn't done anything for a month. She pushed me to let go of my bouncing wrist habit and channel that energy into a more focused posture. She listened to my syncopated versions of classical songs, revised to my own liking with my fingers crossing every which way. But then she would say, "Well that was fun and interesting! Now let's play it the way it is written," with a big endearing smile that always meant she cared and sincerely wanted to help me develop into a skilled pianist. 

     Linda Clark modeled discipline and diligence. From her I learned the importance and need for taking ownership in one's learning, integrity in one's work ethic, and pride of one's craft. Linda was a great role model for me as a youth and into my adult years. Her acceptance of my individual personality and character, partnered with her persistent pushing towards achievement has made her a memorable and ever-present teacher, who made a change in my life. 

Linda Clark is a woman who makes change.