Ever since I was a little girl nothing could touch me or make me cry more than listening to someone create music. Maybe it's because my favorite memories, the ones I most associate with love and security are of sitting around a campfire with my mom and dad, uncles and aunts, grandparents and family friends listening to them sing. The air would be cold, the campfire hot and I would sit wrapped in sweatshirt and blankets in my parents' arms in lawn chairs and on benches made from boards and stumps, as they sang, "It only takes a spark to get a fire going..."
When I was 15, one of my best friends, Becky, would sit at the piano in our living room and I would feel my eyes fill with tears as she played songs she wrote. Each note seemed full of emotion, passion and drama. Each hand on a keyboard seems as distinct as fingerprints. My friend, Joan, was a concert pianist, who still teaches piano. her answer machine says, "You have reached the Foster residence where pugs and pianos outnumber the people." In the early days, when I first met her, I would sit in her studio on cold winter's nights and listen as she played Debussy and Rachmaninoff. Her hands seemed to touch and leave the keyboard with an extra lilt, the presence of joy.
My brother, John, like my father, plays the piano by ear. John didn't play in front of us until he was older, but once he did I was in awe. I cannot understand how he hears what he does, how he knows where to place his hands to bring what he hears in his head to the keys. When he plays he seems to be lost in the melody as if hearing notes from another world and translating them to this one.
Today, he stopped by the family house with two of his three children, Avery and Tori. John sat down to play the piano and suddenly Avery was beside him playing along. Avery, too, it seems hears music in his head. Sitting there, listening, watching father and son lost in this moment, lost in the music, I felt privy to this other world. And, for a moment I could hear the music, too.
* Please note when listening to this video that the piano is out-of-tune. John would want me to tell you this.