Ava Gustafson: A Source of Comfort That Will Last a Lifetime


First, I played songs from a variety of Alfred’s Basic Piano Library lessons, song recitals, and music theory books. However, as I got older, I started playing more traditional classical pieces and modern pop songs. My piano lessons were every Wednesday morning in front of school at 6:30 a.m. and were held in my piano teacher’s house. Her piano was beautiful, with the most elegant ivory and ebony keys. Your house was very welcoming and I felt comfortable playing there.

Once a month, on a Saturday, we met in their church or in one of their other student houses and each student played a song at a monthly concert. Song recitals made me nervous, but listening to the other students play made me feel more comfortable. Music had a way of doing that with me.

I dropped out of classes as I got older, but still took time to play during the week. At some point I stopped playing completely, and I never realized how much it had affected me until one day I sat down and started playing again. Immediately I felt calm. I got lost in the music and it felt like I never stopped.

Playing the piano eventually became a stress reliever for me, and it was nice because I could play what I wanted. As I got older and became better at playing the piano, I was able to branch out and play songs that were popular in mainstream culture. I started playing more complex classical songs like Für Elise and pieces by Russian pianists. Obsessed with Harry Potter for a while, I bought a book that contained almost all of the songs on the movie soundtrack.

As I was no longer limited to the songs in my classroom and lecture books, I began to understand why piano was such a delight for others. What used to be a weekly exercise routine has become a regular therapy session for me. Whenever I had a stressful day, I would go into my living room, close the door, and play a song that reflected my feelings.

Playing the piano became a regular activity during the quarantine. With no-one to see, no sports to play with, and virtually no schoolwork, I had plenty of time to explore different types of songs and see which ones resonated with me the most. When school started again and my homework increased, I often found myself in the living room, pouring my inner stress into the melody of the music.

It wasn’t long before my almost daily piano sessions were noticed by members of my family. My mother listened to me play while she cooked dinner and hummed along to the tune of the song. Sometimes my father would come and sit in the living room because he just wanted to be surrounded by the music. I was never interrupted as it was normal to sit at the piano and play a song every bad day.

To this day, I continue to play the piano when I want to relax. Although it started as a weekly lesson, it has become a source of comfort for me that will hopefully last a lifetime.

Ava Gustafson is a graduate of Mayo High School. Send comments on teen columns to Jeff Pieters, [email protected]


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