Playing Piano Helps My Fingers Stay Active
I last sat on my piano bench over a year ago. For most of the past year, I had been neglecting the bench’s original purpose by stacking library books and old notes on it. But a few days ago, I decided to clear it off, and ended up losing myself in playing for a couple of hours.
I realized I had forsaken the piano for too long. I missed the feeling of the keys against the pads of my fingers, and the feeling of getting into a state of flow, the point at which my fingers do all the thinking. I probably enjoy the feeling of my fingers moving purposefully and gracefully over the keys almost as much as the sounds they produce.
For many of us with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, the feeling that any part of our body can move purposefully, and even with a little bit of grace, is not incredibly common. So, I think that when we find an activity we truly enjoy, one that allows us to exercise the dexterity and mobility that we do have, we ought to lean into it.
Although I didn’t initially enjoy playing piano earlier in my life, that has changed. My first introduction to it was as a young child listening to my brother and sister play. Soon enough, when I was in kindergarten, my parents signed me up for lessons.
Unfortunately, as a child, I didn’t have the patience to practice very much. As a result, it felt like performances and recitals merely set me up for embarrassment. Still, despite my being pretty uncooperative, after almost nine years of determination, my piano teacher managed to get me through most of the basics.
After that, high school and marching band became priorities, so I gave up on piano lessons. At the time, I felt my piano playing days were over.
In college, I found myself yearning for a way to create a moment just for myself — a way to produce something beautiful that didn’t need to be shared. I appreciated what the piano can do. Between classes, sometimes I’d duck into a practice room in the music building to play for a few spare minutes, a type of brief meditation to recompose myself.
After graduation, I continued to play every now and then, but for some reason, over the past couple years, I haven’t been making time for it as much. Part of me regrets that.
As with any skill, “use it or lose it,” as the saying goes. I think for CMTers, this phrase is doubly true, because without stimulation and activity, we can quickly lose our dexterity, strength, and ability.
I sometimes wonder if my finger dexterity may have been much weaker if it hadn’t been for the time I spent practicing the piano. Until recently, my finger dexterity was one of the areas that CMT hadn’t considerably affected.
So, for the benefits that come with keeping my fingers active, and because I miss the feeling of playing, I plan to return to the piano bench more often in coming days.
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