Here is an article I have written for my regular column in the Voices newsletter that should be coming out sometime in January or February I think and I just wanted to share it with all of you. This is a very special part of my life.
A Little Boy, A Big Piano
I would like to tell you a story of a little boy, who when he was 8 years old, knew that his little fingers were made for something far beyond his every day existence. His family had just moved to a little town called Hampton Iowa. While in the 2nd grade, this little boy knew that he wanted to play the piano. He had neither taken a lesson in his short life nor was anyone in his family an accomplished musician. Somehow, he just knew that music was a part of him and that he was a part of music. Although, much of this was not truly known to him at this time, the only thing that he did understand was that he had a strong desire to play the piano.
The little boy’s family had very little money as the money they had went to buy food, clothes and provide a warm place to live. It was not an easy life for this boy or his family but it was the only one he knew. He knew that even used pianos cost so much and that the likelihood of getting one was very remote. The chances were not good and so he hoped and prayed every day that he would get a piano. His mom knew how much he wanted a piano and little did he know at the time, how important it was to her as well.
The little boy’s mom always wanted to play the piano as a little girl but her father was deadset against it and would not have anything to do with it. She begged and pleaded with him to let her learn how to play the piano. She begged her father to buy her a piano. At every turn, she was told no because her father needed his money for his alcohol and would not spare any for her to follow the desires of her heart.
So when the little boy expressed to his mother the desire he had to play the piano, she knew that she would not allow the same mistake to be made that her father made. She knew that if one truly wanted to play the piano that she was going to help them fulfill this dream no matter what it took. One day after the little boy came home from school, she gave him the surprise announcement that a neighbor across the street had an old piano for sale. The neighbors only wanted $35 for this piano.
The piano was a very tall, heavy, and big piano. It had ivory keys and a sound that carried all the way to the distant stars. Sure it needed to be tuned, but the quality of the sound that came from its keys was more beautiful than any orchestra one could ever hear. It was a sound all to itself and one that had not been fully utilized. His family loaded the piano up and brought it to its new home. A new home where it would live and sing for many years to come as the little boy brought it to life.
It didn’t take long for them to get the piano inside and to the little boy’s ears, he heard something coming from the keys as if someone already knew how to play the piano. He found out that even though his mother had never taken a lesson in her life, her hands understood the language of the keys on the piano. She could sit down and hear songs, then play them on the piano. Usually it was only with one hand and she so badly desired to learn how to play but the responsibilities of her life prevented her from doing this.
Shortly after they got the piano home, the little boy found an elderly lady to begin teaching him how to play this magnificent instrument. She taught him how to do everything that he would need to know. All of the basics were there along with all the disciplines as well. The little boy practiced hard and long for he wanted to learn everything that he could about the piano. He wanted to make beautiful music with it, and knew that it would take time to learn all the things he needed to learn.
As time went, the little boy grew and continued to practice the piano. He would watch others play the piano and learn as much as he could from what they did. He was always in tune to the sounds they were making and tried to recreate those sounds. It didn’t take long before he started to perform for school choirs and churches.
The boy continued playing through many years of his life where there was great tragedy. His father was not always appreciative of what he could do or accepting of what he did. Usually his father was very critical of all that he played. One instance the boy remembered was when his father said, “that song was full of mistakes”. To which the boy replied, “but how can it be full of mistakes? I just created it”. And that was the beginning of the boy learning how to make music and to play the music that was inside of him. It was not music that he could write down, but music that kept coming from deep within.
For many years, this music seemed to have no place and the boy did not trust that which was within himself. He felt much safer if he could practice a song and memorize it, than perform it. But for him to just allow himself to be the instrument of which the music flowed out from in front of people, was something that was way too scary for him. And so he kept this music only for himself and away from the ears of any other people in the world.
Then one year at a Voices conference where he felt safe, he decided to share it in the talent show. He was scared to death as his time came for him to perform on the piano and even though he thought about backing out, he knew that it was time to take this step and share his music with others. As he approached the piano, his feet were shaking and his hands trembling but he continued to tell himself to relax and ignore the fact there were many other people in the room. He kept telling himself that he was just going to have fun and let the music flow out of himself. His plan was to place his hands on the piano and wherever they rested, he would begin playing. What happened next not only mesmerized the people in the room but it shocked him as to what came out. He knew that it was truly the music, the language, from a deep place within his self.
For years to follow, the music laid dormant, and for a long time it was a connection to a source of pain in his life. For when he endured some of the most difficult moments at the hands of very evil monsters in his life, his music would transcend him into another realm of the world. It was his safe place. It was his language that he could scream and cry through which no one else understood. The notes were words that could not be spoken nor tears that could be shed. So for this boy to begin connecting himself with the music, he had to deal with the pain it brought forth. For that which carried his life for many years also allowed him to shut out so much of what he had to feel.
As time went, he began to heal from these traumas of the past and the music began to grow and become alive within him. The notes once again sang out their melodies and they connected as a language of survival and connection to better things yet to come. This time, the songs that he once knew by memory were no longer of use to him. For all his hands wanted to do was to create what was coming from deep within. So he gave in and began allowing himself to be connected to the music and from that, he played some very beautiful music.
At first all he was able to do was to record the music by the way of a tape recorder. Once he did this, he was shocked at what he heard. For what he heard was much different than what he thought he actually created. It was some of the first times that he actually heard what he played. Even though somehow he managed to put the notes together, he never actually heard what he played until it was played back. While that may sound strange, it is very true for him and so finally he was able to record all that he does through his computer. Getting to hear the music for the first time has been so enlightening and so healing as well.
If you haven’t guessed it by now, the little boy is me! This has been my journey and for the first time in my life, I have put together 15 songs on a CD and am sharing this with the world. My goal is not to be famous or rich, just to share my music with the world. To see where the language of the notes carries the songs and to have the opportunity to see how it affects those that listen to it. Unfortunately my mom left this world before this took place so she never got to hear my finished CD while she was on this earth. I do think though she has heard the music because it was created from her in so many ways and from the emotions I experienced as a result of having to say goodbye to her.
Hopefully if you have followed along with me to this point, you will see not only that I have created something beautiful but that it came out of struggles from my past. It was a long road from which I am healing and the healing still continues. This CD also signifies that there are possibilities out there, which we may not even know about today but we may be introduced to them in the future. One of the principles in life that I embrace is that I want to keep my eyes wide open so that I don’t miss anything life may be trying to offer me. Where the music will carry me, I do not know at this point. I just know that I will no longer hide it but will trust myself to share this music with the world.
If you would like to listen to this music, it is up on mp3.com and the link is http://www.mp3.com/Don_Shetterly
. If you are not able to get to mp3.com, you can also go to my website at http://www.breakingthesilence.net/donsplace/mymusic.htm
. I do hope that you can take a moment to listen to it on mp3.com as you will help my ranking, plus you will be introduced to music that comes from the soul of a survivor. It is a language that is not spoken but is connected by each note and each sound. If you feel so inclined, I would love to hear from you how the music touched your life. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .