A lovely essay on learning piano:
"In my growing-up house, the one where my grandparents raised us with a sense of purpose, extracurricular activities were not just for our educational resumes. We were expected to do the things that the ancestors never could. We studied literature, played sports, gave speeches, participated in pageantry on a regular basis.
They weren't just activities. They were duties.
Music also wasn't extracurricular. It was integral. Mahalia Jackson's soulful wail painted the walls on more than Sunday mornings. Nat King Cole was a regular, too.
And when those voices were silent, I heard the songs anyway. Man, my grandmother could sing! We heard ``How Great Thou Art'' along with ``Straighten Up and Fly Right.'' And when she wasn't singing, she kept trying to make my brother, sister and me perform in front of her friends.
In the corner was the piano, an extravagance that became a necessity, a part of a cultured upbringing. It was so much a part of my house I can't remember when it wasn't there. But I do remember this:
I never played it.
I didn't know how. And I was scared to learn."
Read the rest here