Thursday, March 16, 2017

The One Even Less Traveled By

Two roads diverged in a wood and I
I took the one less traveled by
Until my son grabbed my hand
And together we made a third path
Where no-one else had been

Walk with me.

I'm listening to my son's piano lesson in the next room, as I write this.  Last year, he started teaching himself Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor," by ear.  About the same time, he joined a rock band class.  The bond with his band teacher, Dan West, allowed him to transition back into private piano lessons at home.  He had hit a wall in playing the piece and needed to learn technique to proceed. Dan also directed his band, P.A.N.D.A., and Liam was able to see that practicing songs led to playing with others and playing for other people. It gave music a "why." 

Now, bit by bit, he follows his teacher through the piece, improving, goofing, learning.  It will be rewarding to hear him wander over to the keyboard later in the week and play it, just for pleasure.

Recently, we got a notice from Goldstar Tickets about a Pipe Organ Concert at Disney Hall.  Liam has been watching performances of "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" on YouTube, featuring amazing organists.  (In fact the technical skill of those players made him want to play at the same breakneck speed - a hard habit to break). I showed him a video of the featured organist and he ran over to his keyboard saying, "I want to play the organ with my feet!"  He proceeded to play his piece, while pretending to play bass notes with his feet on the floor.  I bought the tickets.

It got me to thinking, I used to sing in a choir, directed by one of the top concert organists in town, Christoph Bull.  I reached out and asked if he, or anyone he knew, offered lessons on the pipe organ.  As it turned out, one of his former students, Dr. Namhee Han, was giving a concert at Our Lady of Angeles the following day.  I wrote to her and asked if she might consider meeting Liam as a prospective student.  We went to the concert and Liam listened and watched and asked if he could play that organ.  I told him he'd have to wait to have a lesson and we agreed to meet with Dr. Han at her church in Westwood the following week.

The steps that led to these discoveries began long before I even met my son. Because I sang in a choir 18 years ago, I knew a brilliant organist.  Because I have been improvising since the late 80's I know that "yes" leads to far more interesting options than saying, "no."  And because we chose to allow Liam to lead the way, all of these past experiences have converged into a new path.

On days it feels like we are wandering in the woods, I remind myself that this is not the road I imagined, or the one most others take, but that makes all the difference.

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