Playing keyboards means many things to many people, but for me it means healing.
I’m a pretty happy person in general. But, like most people, I experience moments of anguish, loneliness and aggravation — whether it’s from work or from my personal life. And, like most people, those times tend to set my emotions off balance, at which point I look for a way to re-center myself.
There are, of course, various well-known methods to cope with such feelings, from pounding on a pillow to meditation. But when I go through these moments, I’m draw to my keyboard for comfort.
Once my playing abilities got beyond basic sight-reading, I discovered that I could use my emotions to guide the moods that a piano can create. Then, when I made the transition to digital keyboards, I found that the multitude of sounds and effects they provide helped to enhance these moods further still. Sure, an acoustic piano can sound amazing by itself, but when you can add in the accompanying sound of a whole orchestra — complete with the reverb of a concert hall — it makes the experience even more moving.
Interestingly, the lowest moments have yielded the sweetest music from me. In those moments, I find that I am able to play with pure emotion. During one of the most challenging times in my life, I found myself going through moments of very high highs followed by very low lows. The emotional see-sawing finally got so intense that I ended up moving to a new town where I knew no one … which only added loneliness on top of everything else I was going through!
I realized that I needed to get myself in balance once again. That’s when I found myself drawn to playing sad love songs on my keyboard — songs like Chris Isaac’s “Wicked Games,” One Republic’s “Apologize,” and Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek.” I laugh when I think about it these days, now that I’m in a better place. But at the time it was important that I go through playing those songs, along with other emotionally charged pieces that I wrote myself. Just the act of bringing my inner struggles to the keyboard and hearing them manifest as music made me feel better. It allowed me to experience those raw feelings for what they really were and to be honest with them.
The product of those cathartic playing sessions was to bring me peace. They helped me let go of feelings that were eating me up inside. And, interestingly, I found that once they finished serving their purpose, playing those same sad songs later on did little for me. Just like a child that grows out of playing with dolls, I was ready to move on and make room for happier things in my life.
Playing a musical instrument is an intensely personal experience. For me, it has provided a powerful means to help recover from negative feelings. Best of all, I know that when my healing is complete and there is no longer that great urge to play sad pieces, my keyboard is still there to allow me to express the new-found happiness in my life.
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