I used to be a very strict piano instructor, probably resembling more the “Nazi Piano Dictator” that expected her students to be prepared each lesson, practicing for competitions and festivals, and God be with you if you came unprepared to your lesson. I was intolerant of the “untalented” and had no time for frivolous pop junk, and only allowed classical music in my studio. I was arrogant and snobbish.
Unfortunately that is how I was raised, and how I experienced my piano lessons as a child by my Nazi Piano Dictators. The motto always was: practice, practice, practice and achieve, even if you have to walk over dead people. Often I felt I was in a runaway train to musical death, but I didn’t know how to get out of this train headed for destruction, after all it was the norm.
I was raised to achieve things. I was born and raised in Germany, a country where people worship intelligence, intellect, education, and personal achievements. Anyone who was below the national norm was considered sub-human and was not tolerated in society. As a matter of fact, the Germans have a “special” place for such “sub-humans.” It is called an institution, where those poor people are put behind walls and hidden doors, away from the rest of society.
Playing the piano was no different: either you achieved or your teacher’s wrath would come upon you until you had no self-esteem left.
So I graduated from the highest level High School, always practiced for my piano lessons and went on to University to study music and achieved, achieved and achieved, relentlessly.
But then my daughter Christina was born. When I learned of her diagnosis of Down syndrome, it felt as if I had been hit by a truck and swallowed up by darkness with no way out. I thought: “what did I do wrong? I followed all the rules, I achieved, I was a good girl and took care of my health.” In an instant my life as I knew it was derailed, and my achievements seemed meaningless. I didn’t want Christina to have Down syndrome, which meant she would have intellectual challenges. I didn’t want to deal with this kind of life, of raising a special child. I didn’t want to live anymore, because my life had ended anyways.
After many, many, many years of struggle, I finally came to accept that success and achievements are neither important nor essential. Christina will never represent her country in the Olympics, but neither will most people. Christina will never be a concert-pianist, but she calls herself a piano star. I love it when she tells me in her grammatically incorrect English:”Mama, I piano star.” She played Beethoven’s Ode to Joy with a full orchestra, an accomplishment only few will reach. If you haven’t seen the video of her performance, you can see it HERE. I am blessed to witness firsthand the impact Christina’s piano performances have on others. The encouragement and hope she is bringing to this world.
As a mom I thought it was my job to mold my child, but instead this child with Down syndrome has molded me. I no longer idolize intelligence and achievements, but I have learned to value virtues like compassion and selfless love. Simply, my Christina has molded me into a better, more human version of myself.
Christina was my catalyst of my creation “A Holistic Piano Method For Individuals With Special Needs.”
I used to be the Nazi Piano Dictator, but Christina helped me become a Holistic Piano Coach. Just the ring of the word “holistic” brings images of healing, relaxation and joy.
See all the goodness Christina brought into this world.