A young student and I have been practicing and improvising with 5 finger and chord patterns in all keys. This week we began to explore the minor keys and delighting in how one little change can make a huge difference in how the music feels. At the end of the lesson I said something to the effect that it is a little strange that we use the word key to describe the different patterns since it is also the name for the black and white things we press to create sounds.

I was, very practically, trying to be sure she knew that I was using the word key in a new way. But, with the infinite wisdom of the young, she looked and me and said, I know why they are called keys. It’s because each one is the key to a soul. They sing their souls.

I guess she told me.

A few days later as I was checking my social media feeds, I came across this quote: A #novel is like a bow, and the violin that produces the sound is the reader’s soul. (Stendhal) Again with the word soul. I sent the quote to an adult student of mine who, a few weeks previously, had described the experience of playing as repeating, creating, and being lost in the music all at once.

Dare I propose a paraphrase? A piece of music is like two hands (and one or two feet), and the piano that produces the sound is the pianist’s soul.

The seven year old’s take on music, keys, and the soul stands.


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