Shiny Objects

To the left of my piano hangs a painting of a Chincoteague Pony. My father bought this for me just before I became a teenager, so I did not appreciate it then but I do now. It was painted by a local artist and sold for $250 at a cafe by the beach near to where I grew up. This is what I remember being told about its origins; I was young when he gave it to me, and sometimes our memory changes our truth, but I think that I have recalled this correctly.

The painting is behind glass, so when I sit at the piano I can see my face reflected in it. I often look over and watch my silhouette as I’m playing and think about how long my hair has grown or what angle my jawline is taking or if my posture is straight. I hate that I look at myself this closely, but it is how I have gotten (climbed) to where I am–such ruthless attention to detail, such heightened awareness–so I find that I simultaneously appreciate this part of myself.

This is not the first piano that allowed me to see myself. At twelve years old my parents purchased a black lacquered Yamaha that was for many years kept against the living room wall nearest to the front door. I could sit at the piano bench and look directly into its dark gloss finish and see my face reflected, like looking into a tinted mirror or opaque window.

Once I became a good pianist, I could play the keys and watch my reflection at the same time – meaning that, simultaneously, I heard what was on the inside and saw what was on the outside. If this sounds intimate this is because as a girl it was, and as a woman still is. I am today no less fascinated to experience myself in this way, to discover what is reflected in my music, in one way and sometimes two.

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