Prompt: I’m sure you’ve listened to those longs videos of relaxing sounds that can be played for 10+ hours. Now it’s your turn to give it a try! Create something relaxing, with layered sounds, and some spontaneous sounds! It doesn’t have to be 10+ hours long, but something that could be on repeat for that long. Put in all of your favorite relaxation sounds, even if they don’t match! Just have fun with it!
This is a 2.5 star assignment.
When I was about 5 years old, I started taking dance lessons at Carol’s School of Dance. I was the only Black girl in a class of about 20 or so kids. My mom signed me up for tap, ballet, pointe, and baton. As a kid, maybe I loved this stuff, but as a teen, I just remember feeling so out of place. My body wasn’t quite like the other kids bodies, and as I got older, it was clear that I had a sturdier physique than the girls in my school. Eventually, I felt so uncomfortable that I decided it was time for a change.
When I was about 10, I asked my mom if I could learn to play piano. She wasn’t very happy about it, but let me sign up for lessons with Mrs. Cibula. We drove about 20 minutes three times a week for lessons. Mom wouldn’t buy me a piano or a keyboard because the lessons were so expensive. So, at the beginning, I practiced on a paper keyboard that I drew myself. I had to imagine what the keys sounded like. Despite this I showed immediate progress. I took piano lessons until I was 16. At that time, Mrs. Cibula announced that I had learned everything that she could teach me. It was a true joy to practice at Mrs. Cibula’s house because she eventually bought a white baby grand piano. I loved practicing on such a magnificent instrument. By this time, my mom had also invested in an upright piano for me. Playing piano was so relaxing and wonderful. The instrument just speaks to me in a way no other does. I loved playing classical music and gospel music. I continued to play piano at home until I got married, around age 19.
Click here to explore different types of grand pianos in different colors. I had no idea that there are so many different colors!
While I was never a famous pianist or anything, I often was the closing pianist in my school’s recitals, a place of honor at my school. I went on to teach at Chords & Keys, though I didn’t enjoy teaching children at all. And, I sometimes played piano at my high school for events. I was often nervous to do that, so it was pretty rare. It was ironic that I left one creative field due to being the only Black person there, an then entered another where being Black was equally rare. There was only one other Black girl at my piano school. It just so happened that I knew her and we were friends.
Here is an example of Hazel Scott, a famous pianist, playing a very complicated piano tune. I couldn’t find many videos of Black women playing a baby grand without vocals. I wanted to focus on the instrument rather than the voice. I wasn’t as good as Hazel Scott, but this video will give you an idea of how the instrument sounds. The joy Hazel has here is the same I felt as a pianist. I even tried to become a jazz pianist during my college years at VCU, but it just didn’t work out for me. Anyway, Hazel Scott is my piano hero!
During my adult life, I moved overseas and couldn’t take my piano with me. I stayed gone so long that eventually my mom sold my piano. I was sad to see it go, but I couldn’t take it with me. Even after returning to the States, I never lived anywhere large enough to accommodate even an upright piano. Over time, my ability to play diminished. I still feel connected to the piano though. Listening to instrumental piano music sends chills through me and makes my body hum. I sure miss playing. One good thing is that my time overseas introduced other styles of music to me, as well as new instruments. I now own a guzheng, which I have tried to teach myself to play with minimal success. I can play one song after nearly a year of practicing. Here’s another video if you want to see how it sounds. It’s a very unique instrument.
Due to these cultural influences, my idea of what is relaxing has changed over time. At night, for relaxation, I now listen to white noise, relaxing sounds, or audiobooks. In a previous post called Create A Place, I mentioned that the sound of the ocean is relaxing to me. Now, you know that the piano is too! Due to Asian influences from my overseas experiences, I also enjoy the sound of chanting. Here is a sound clip that I mixed together using some sounds I found on Freesound. It includes the piano, the ocean, and chanting sounds. It’s a little odd, but it isn’t meant to be amazing. It’s just supposed to include some of my favorite relaxing sounds. So, I hope you find it a bit relaxing too!