I have a Great Uncle Jack, who back in his day was a fantastic piano player. As a musician one of his jobs was as a piano tuner, which he continued to do for a long time. He also owned a coffee shop, during the fifties and sixties in Greenwich Village, NY, where he performed. He also gigged all over the East Coast. He was a jazz player and as such his style was that of playing big chordal patterns with both hands, rather than single note/interval comping bass lines with his left. So intricate were his abilities that I used to marvel at how, not only he could do it, but get that big sound as well. He is my Grandfathers’ brother, and the last of his generation. He has always made music, and that has been his passion for as long as I can remember.
A number of years ago, he suffered a stroke, which crippled him from being able to do even the simplest of tasks. His brain could not figure out how to work his hands to feed and dress himself, let alone play music ever again. The doctors explained, that this kind of thing was common with severe strokes like the kind Jack had, and that his family shouldn’t expect too much in his daily progress.
All attempts to play were met with wild frustration, at the difficulty of the task that at one time seemed so easy. He all but gave up trying to play and concentrated on other rehabilitation. About six months after his stroke, he asked to be taken to his beloved piano; his wife by his side was amazed as he launched into all his old routines on the instrument. He still did not have the ability to do easy everyday normal things for himself, as his brain didn’t allow it, and he only had enough strength to be out of bed for a few hours a day, yet somehow his hands remembered what they had to do. It was as if the memories were locked inside the muscles and tissues of his hands rather than his head. The music was inside his very soul, and would not be put down like a wounded beast, to rot away with nothing but unforgiving time.
He is still alive, and though he’s only good for about 3 hours a day, they are a joyous music filled three hours, where once again he touches all those around him with his gift.
So, whether you are a guitarist, or a pianist, let no one tell you that music is not bred from deep within, because I am here to tell you it is…And it is good.