© 2019 Our Voices Magazine

Have You Practiced Yet?

By Mary Ellen Reese Loose



"As the years went by and wonderful opportunities came my way, I realized I would not have come to this point without my Mother “making” me take piano lessons.”


I was blessed to grow up in a very musical family. My Father was a fine singer and my Mother was an accomplished pianist. We “lived” music 24/7. Some of my fondest memories were of hearing my Father sing sacred songs, operatic arias and show tunes....accompanied by my Mother. They were a team and they were excellent.


My Mother began piano lessons at age 4 because of her Mother. She remembers not really enjoying taking lessons....but her Mother knew she had a gift for playing the piano so lessons were not an option.


A few days before my seventh birthday, my Mother took me to my first piano lesson. I remember my first piano teacher, Trudy Johnson, and my first recital....and, the fact that I did not like to practice!


I took piano lessons every year until I graduated from high school....and I continued them at Brigham Young University. But, I was “difficult” when it came to practicing. Perhaps “undisciplined” is a better word. I did enjoy “playing” the piano but the hard work of practicing was something I struggled with.


I gave my mother a hard time for many years and often wanted to quit piano altogether. When I was in high school, she made a compromise: I could take the summer off if I would continue during the school year. Deal!


Looking back, I managed to mingle enough practice with the playing so that I progressed. Also, I was given, through the Church auxiliaries and my high school, countless opportunities to accompany. This proved to be a very good form of “practice.”

By the time I was in my twenties, I was an “established” accompanist. It was where I excelled with my piano playing skills. As the years went by and wonderful opportunities came my way, I realized I would not have come to this point without my Mother “making” me take piano lessons.


My heart has been full of gratitude for her all these years....and she has been the recipient of many “thank you” notes from me.


I make my living now as an accompanist and I owe that to my Mom. I asked her once why she didn’t give up, especially when I would complain so much. She said she knew I had a talent and she was going to make sure I developed it!


I share this story from my life because, as a Piano Teacher for over thirty years, I have taught students who are “forced” to take lessons. I encourage parents to not give up, especially when the student has a lot of promise. My life would be very different if my Mother had not made piano lessons a “requirement” for my life.


Mary Ellen is a Collaborative Pianist who teaches at Chandler - Gilbert Community College in Arizona. She also composes and arranges choral and piano music. Her published works can be found at Jackman Music and Santa Barbara Music Publishing.