We Want to Quit, Piano!

I had one arch-nemesis as a child. This shadowy figure would umbrella down to our home under an ominous cloud of disappointment with a never ending regimen of practice and lessons.

I had one arch-nemesis as a child.  This shadowy figure would umbrella down to our home under an ominous cloud of disappointment with a never ending regimen of practice and lessons.

Once a week, there’d be a tapping, suddenly there came a rapping,
As for entrance she must be asking, “Holy crap!  Hide!  Mrs. Lee is here!”

Mrs. Lee was my piano teacher and admirable adversary.  She was a young mother with a soft and elegant face, often dressed in a warm smile.  I would have probably had a strong infatuation if her heart wasn’t blackened with the joys of music.  My spine still shudders at the haunting sounds of Für Elise.

She was hired by my mom to assassinate my love for quiet leisure.  Every Wednesday, Mrs. Lee sat me in front of a piano and bludgeoned me with encouragement, patience, and creativity.  It was sick how she almost imbued me with self-esteem.  I countered using all the stupidity my clumsy fingers could muster to stave off developing into a sexy male adult.  She was no match for my apathetic coordination.

Five years of piano lessons and I never graduated beyond playing Chopsticks.  Both of my sisters advanced by leaps and bounds.  But, they found no pleasure adding music to their charm and grace.  My sisters yearned to have my absence of mind.  If I was learning nothing, it was only fair they abstained from being talented as well.

One night, the three of us had a sibling huddle to discuss our grievances.  This was the dawn of our emancipation proclamation.  For the first and only time, we cast aside our begrudging differences as the wise eldest, the tenacious high-achieving middle, and the boy.  An impassioned protest was to be held before the last minutes of inevitable bedtime.  Nothing could prepare my mom for the forthcoming barrels of uninspired youth.  With our sibling quarrels on pause, we had finally assembled…to avenge…in 3-D…tesseract.

We armored up with fresh underwear helmets and strapped pillows to our chests.  On glorious poster boards and restless colored construction paper, we painted our messages of dissonance.  Now came the final measure.

We revolted.  My eldest sister lead the charge.  She front-kicked the master bedroom door and we flooded toward the foot of my mother’s regal mattress.  Emboldened by the adrenaline of overthrowing the iron fist of the family, we raised our signs proud and stomped in a continuous circle.  “We wanna quit! Pee-yea-no!”  We chanted in a perfectly trained four beats per measure.  The irony was thick and savory.

My mother rose from her throne.  She squinted her tired eyes upon the challenge we initiated and struck her response.  “Ya! Chee-gum mo-hah nee?!”  We froze at the thunderous Korean scolding.  I peed a little.

“We…wanna…quit? Pee-yea-no?”  The chant roared one last time despite the quivering about our knees.  In a swift commanding stroke, my mother pointed at the door.  We felt like we made our point.  Our indignation was laid on the table, so we resolved back to our bedrooms.

Like any loving parent, my mom held the weight of our unhappiness into consideration and carefully debated a decision…for several years.  While we waited the years for her compromise, my sisters grew to win ovations at every annual piano recital.  An apprehension to music never stunted the maturation of my sisters’ innate talents.  I continued to grind through Euphemia Allen’s satirical rendition of asians eating a piano.

My mother highness eventually decided that academic tutoring took precedence.  The queen unlocked our shackles from the keyboard and ended the tireless piano lessons.  We were to prepare for our respective careers as the eldest lawyer, the gorgeous middle doctor, and the boy.  Our mom had won the battle.  She pretty much won the war also.  But we made a statement.

2 thoughts on “We Want to Quit, Piano!”

  1. I remember I was 4 years old and my Mom made me take lessons from the same lady my neighbor was taking ’em from. I hated every minute. But I was SO GOOD. I played from 4 years old until 9 years old. Around 9, my tantrums had been perfected, and I got my way. I eventually quit music. I was playing full symphonies, an amazing skill, yet… very unappreciated.

    I quit, forgot to read music, and took up other instruments.

    To this day, I attribute my trained ear, my “perfect pitch” and my skill with multiple other instruments to starting with piano. I wish Mom hadn’t let me quit. I know as a parent, I won’t let my brats quit. It definitely elevated me in ways I would have never expected.


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