||Several months ago I got a call from a young woman. "I feel as though I'm on a spiritual journey," she said.
She explained that a devastating personal loss had caused her to re-examine every aspect of her life. As a result, her way of being in the world was changing rapidly, and for the better. Whats more, she felt that a long-held dreamlearning to play the pianomight be the key to unlocking parts of herself that had always been neglected.
I couldnt imagine a more intriguing statement from a prospective student, nor a more promising one.
Over the past four months, Feri Ebrahimi has been fulfilling that promise. Week after week she brings enormous energy, self-awareness, and humor to her studies. Her insistence on living from the heart inspires me.
Heres her story.
--Bruce Siegel 2/8/05
My name is Feri Ebrahimi. I'm 26 years old and have been taking piano lessons with Bruce for the past four months. I want to share my story because learning to play the piano has been such a wonderfully educational experience for mein more ways than I expected.
I grew up in a household where music wasn't a part of our daily lives. No one in my immediate family played any kind of instrument or was musically inclined in any way. So I never really developed an appreciation for the beauty of music.
As the years went by, I did what every "good" student is supposed to do. I went to high school, got good grades, graduated and went straight to UCLA, got a job even before I graduated from college, worked in a corporate environment for approximately 3 years and then had a mid-20's identity crisis. The "crisis" was sparked by a miscarriage I suffered in December 2003. Experiencing a miscarriage was one of the biggest losses I've had to deal with in my life.
But now I know that everything happens for a reason.
The miscarriage and some subsequent situations forced me to take a hard look at myself and reevaluate my life. I realized I had spent my whole life trying to prove to myself and others that I'm smart and that I can succeed in the business world. Although I had succeeded in the corporate world, I was lacking in so many other areas, such as passion, music, art, creativity, and imagination.
That's when I became inspired to learn how to play the piano. I'd always felt that the piano was one of the most beautiful and harmonious instruments. I had always wished that I could play the piano but was convinced that it was too late for me. Then one day I realized it's never too late to do anything and I decided to go for it, to pursue this dream.
In October 2004, I read about Bruce on a web site dedicated to piano teachers. Something about his biography and his web site caught my attention. I was searching for a teacher who had a passion for teaching and was not just doing it for the money. The first time I met Bruce we ended up talking the whole session. I left knowing that I had found my teacher.
When I first started, I thought to myself, "I'm never going to learn how to play the piano". Within a few weeks, I had started reading music and had already learned to play some beginner pieces. After 3 months, I actually started playing beautiful, full-length songs! I'm now looking forward to participating in the Spring Recital.
It has been 4 months now that I've been taking lessons and it has been a truly wonderful experience. Learning to play the piano has not only given me the fulfillment and joy of gaining a new talent, it has also taught me a very important life lesson. I've learned that through hard work and practice, anything is possible.
In November 2004, I found out that I was pregnant again and this time the baby was here to stay! I am now 3 1/2 months pregnant and I feel really blessed.
Although the miscarriage was a very difficult event, I now know that if it wasn't for that experience, I would probably never have been inspired to play the piano or change my life. I would have taken on all the responsibility of caring for another human being without ever having had the chance to learn some important things about myself.
After four more months of study, Feri is putting her lessons on hold for the moment to prepare for the arrival of her daughter. Instead of a final lesson, we decided to celebrate our eight-month collaboration with a leisurely lunch at The Cheesecake Factory.
It was one of those moments that makes teaching music seem like the best of all possible careers. Feri told me how thrilled she was with her recent participation in our Spring Concert. (Recorded snippets below.) She was amazed to find herself on stage doing something she could only have dreamed of doing eight months ago, and being congratulated afterwards by a genuinely enthusiastic audience.
I told her how proud I was of the fact that, time after time, when she encountered what felt like an impossible obstacle, she reached deep inside herself and found a way to move past it. Feri agreed. It meant a lot to her that she didn't quit piano--as she had ended many other pursuits--when the going got rough.
As we savored our turkey burgers on the restaurant's sun-drenched patio, Feri said that her music lessons have helped her learn to live with passion, to follow what someone once called "a path with heart."
Well, it's working with people like Feri that makes my own path so richly rewarding.
And the cheesecake was incredible.
Audio Feri plays Robert Vandall's Prelude #7 in B minor.
Audio Feri and I play "Dancing Song," arranged by Robert Vandall for four hands.
Robert Vandall's compositions and arrangements, originally published by Myklas Press, are now available from Alfred Music.