Hot Summer Days

The hot lazy days of summertime. It’s an iconic image, reminding us of swimming pools and canon balls, lemonade in a dripping glass, and hamburgers fresh off the grill. What it doesn’t make you think of, is work. Or practicing at the piano.

But tell me, where have those lazy days gone? What I hear from most of you is that you have every minute of the day packed with activities. From baseball and swimming to dance lessons and summer camp. Parents and kids never stop to smell the daisies.

The daisies have come and gone, by the way. I missed them too. They grow by the hundreds in the woods behind my house, and I usually spend the weeks when they are blooming, walking knee deep in them with Jack. The daisies are taller than he is, and for him, I imagine, it’s like walking through a forest. He bounds through my footsteps where I’ve cut a path. But I missed them this year because I was too busy. I put busy in italics because, in truth, I didn’t take the time.

Summertime means downtime. Or it should, anyway. It means spending time fishing by a lake, or reading a good book or two. Summer is boating, or camping, or relaxing by the pool. Summer is art fairs and outdoor concerts. It’s how we spend that time that makes it memorable.

For me, carefully choosing a beautiful song to play at the piano is one of those fulfilling summer activities. When I’ve come in from gardening, or returned from State Street, or the Art Fair on the Square, my down time includes sitting at the piano.

Playing piano can be a fabulous way to relax.  If you have ever played an instrument, you know. And it’s something (a life lesson?) that I hope to instill in all my students. A love of playing. A joy for making music.

It’s difficult, of course. And it takes time-years of practicing-to be able to sit down and play a few songs. That is exactly what we are working on. Forget, for a moment, the theory, the note reading and rhythms. Even forget the scales and technique. All of those things come together…in a song. And music is ultimately why we are here. The love of music.

Sometimes it takes a week, and other times, months to learn a new piece. But even in the quiet solitude of practice, I find peace and relaxation. Somewhere, in those moments alone, there is a beautiful phrase. Sometimes I lose myself in a song I learned years ago. Sometimes it’s just the little progress I make while memorizing a new one. And I find satisfaction there.

Someday, I’ll play that song for you. Most days, I play for me.

So I urge you to sit down for a moment and breathe. Let your fingers drift over the keys and find a tune. Maybe you like an encouraging beat. Maybe you like to swing it. Or perhaps, you enjoy the classics, as I do. A means of escape from the day. From your activities. Sounds that make you relax.

To me, that’s what summertime should be. Relaxing. Fulfilling.

Look for my posting of links to free summer concerts around Madison. There are still two months left. Enjoy.

©Tracey Phillips