October 5, 2011
Peter Teaches Himself Piano
I want to tell you about a remarkable musician I know. His name is Peter. He is Korean, and changed his first name to an American name when he came to America. After hearing him play the piano beautifully, I asked him if he had taken lessons to learn how to play. To answer my question, he told me this story.
When he was a Middle School student in Korea, he took a music class at school that met once a week. He loved the class and looked forward to it each week. In the class one day he heard a classical piece played on the piano. After he heard it, he could not get the melody out of his mind. He had always thought of the piano as an instrument for church music, but this was something different. He also heard his music teacher play other classical pieces. He wanted to play the piano so badly that he would put small rocks in the window of the Music Room to prop the window open. After school he would then sneak back into the room and teach himself how to play the piano.
Peter did this for 2-3 months before the school security found him in the room one day and made him stop. He wanted to play the piano intensely but his parents were too poor to pay for lessons. When he was a 2nd year High School student, he joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After he joined the church, he asked the Bishop if he could practice on the church piano after school. The Bishop told him that he could.
Every day, Peter would go to the church at 3 pm after school and play the piano until 11 pm in the evening. He would then catch a bus home, eat dinner and study homework from school. He would get to bed at 2 am and wake up the next morning at 6:30 am to start again. He loved playing the piano so much that he figured out that he could play until 11:15 pm and then run to the bus stop carrying his heavy student bags. He did this to get an extra 15 minutes of playing time. It was risky; if he missed the bus he had a long walk home in the dark. He studied like this through the rest of his High School years. He taught himself to play Beethoven Sonatas and Chopin pieces in 6 months.
Peter kept pestering his parents to buy him a piano. His family lived in a one room house, he knew they didn't have the money, but he asked anyway. Finally his father bought a used pump organ. Peter played it until it broke.
Peter has a gift and a great love of music. He has taught himself to play the flute, saxophone, drums, guitar, and trumpet. He is a great example of what someone can do with determination, sweat, and the Lord's blessings.