My mom tried to teach me but, as she has often said, it‘s not easy for a mother to teach her child, especially a daughter. So she found me a teacher. I began to study piano in earnest when I was eight.
With my new teacher, I learned to play classical music—easy minuets by Bach were among my favorites. She appreciated my penchant for composing, too. I recall perfectly the small pieces I produced. In my young handwriting, I drew the notes of the left hand, descending down the scale, and the simple melodies of the right. The seeds of the music I make now were there in those early creations.
Although I loved classical music, I was a child of the Sixties and Seventies. That era, rich with invention, marked my musical coming of age. One morning, I was sitting on the front lawn. It was garbage collection day. As the garbage truck approached, I heard a song that captivated me with its first chords. The tune was coming from a small transistor radio hanging on the trash collector’s belt. Listening with avid interest, I followed that man all the way up the street as he emptied the neighbors’ bins. I couldn’t let go of the music.
Once the song was finished, I ran back to the house and to the piano. My ear tried to find the melody on the keyboard, my fingers searching through trial and error. The song, I later discovered, was James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain.”
At those times, my fingers moved over the keys with greater abandon. When certain harmonies arose, I’d savor them, entranced. After several minutes, a wonderful thing happened. Though I was often sad, when I began to play, my mood changed. I became peaceful and happy. As I played the music I loved, a veil dropped away, revealing a dimension where everything was okay.