I almost didn’t become a pianist. True story. See, my first piano teacher was kind of the Tom to my Jerry. Always a bit of a chase; she wanted me to do things I couldn’t do. She’d say things that made me tear up. At 9, it’s definitely not the best feeling, no wonder I don’t remember her name. In fact, I felt like she was pressuring me so much that I couldn’t feel anymore. Know this: music is nothing without feeling. Music is meditation, when the feeling of the heart is implemented and applied correctly.

Improvisation is how you find the soul of the instrument, through your own souls connection to sound. It gives you control to create and be you. This is what I want to teach and help people to know is possible! You can learn an instrument and disconnect from the mental chatter… Allow yourself to embrace the instrument, and yourself.

But why did I feel pressured? Well, she was taking the beauty of what music truly is, to me, away. I didn’t know it at that time, but music isn’t taught… It’s learned. That’s kind of poetic and all, but there’s something to that. See, in my case I didn’t like reading. Literally in any form. Reading books or reading music, it all seemed quite useless to me. My first teacher made me feel like a robot, just another student that has to memorize a bunch of black dots on some lines of a sheet of paper. That’s not who I was, I was exceedingly creative. I was the type, and still am, that would write a novel instead of read one. Unless the content of a book benefited my growth, I didn’t see it’s benefit.

So I vowed, after being taught by this tear-inducing nameless piano teacher, I would never play piano again. Well, my parents had a different plan. My father’s friend was, and is, a pianist of the highest regard. He taught his wife piano and I was introduced to her.

My first lesson I’m thinking: Ugh… Well, I’ll go for my mum but I just don’t want to be hurt again. One of my parents must have explained (or maybe I did, I don’t remember) that I struggled with reading music. Because, for some reason, my new teacher taught me how to learn from myself through improvisation. Now, it’s not that this was her normal way of teaching. All her other students were taught the old fashion way: read music. She noticed I had an ear for music, I could pick up a song and play it on the piano within minutes. But whenever she’d try to teach me how to read, I would blank out and she’d, understandably, give up.

Yes, she planned to eventually focus on teaching me how to read music. Therefore, after 5 years of learning incredible improvisational techniques, it was obvious I couldn’t go further in our lessons without reading music. So at 15 I stopped lessons and began to teach myself songs by ear.


My Reading Dilemma

I wasn’t often read to as a child, but my parents came up with stories from their imagination. Like my father told my endless stories of this adventurer “Rose” who was always upto something incredibly fun. My mum told me stories of
I remember when I was a little tot, when my mum wasn’t around, I would use toilet paper squares and make them into a little book… Slowly flipping through it as though it were a story. I’d fill those toilet paper pages with images and adventure.

Honestly, I believe their imagination helped fuel that creativity of writing and my own imagination. It kept it alive. The stories they told, the images that filled my mind… I even heard musical scores to these plots.

How I learned grammar and spelling? Microsoft word 2001. Believe it or not, school did not help me at all when it came to reading. What did it was Word. At a young age we used Word and I despised those red and green squiggly lines under words and sentences. So much so, that I memorized grammatical rules and spellings. “This fragment could consider correction” and what have you, can drive someone batty! I’d rather spell something correctly than to have to right click to find the word I’m looking for every single time.

At 10, a bit before we found Akiko, wasn’t fond of doing things that felt useless, as most kids tend to feel. If it was some literature that I felt benefited by, then I would read it. But elementary school tends to consist of vampire romance novels to the school history books of all those ghastly wars. History repeated itself in a pattern that just continued to irritate me…
Why do we keep waging wars on such futile things? Why do people have to die for another mans selfish-greedy acts/desires? I would ponder, until I just felt depressed that it war still existed. Sometimes for reasons that weren’t quite known to us.
Then the boring and mindless array of pointless novels that my age group, 10-13, was given to choose from. What utter nonsense…
I don’t care about vampires making babies.

However, movies/tv shows did entice me. I didn’t have cable TV, but we’d have certain shows and movies in the house. Star Trek (original movies/original series) or Back to the future, those were things that appealed to me. It felt like I entered someone’s imagination in an entire experience. My senses were entangled in the productions.

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