Making Time for Adult Piano Lessons

Stacy Schwartz playing Somewhere Over the Rainbow after only four months of study.

Stacy Schwartz, a professor at Rutgers University, a business consultant, and a mother of three children all under seven, has very little free time.  Yet this past summer, her schedule shifted in some interesting ways after her middle child enrolled in piano lessons.  Stacy joined GRAND PIANO PASSION™ for this exclusive interview and video.

What motivated you to sign up for adult piano lessons?

I never played piano as a child but always wished I had. So when my five-year-old daughter showed interest earlier this year, I enthusiastically signed her up for piano lessons at a local music center. At home I’d sit beside her at a portable keyboard to practice each day. As her interest started to wane (as most interesting things soon do when you’re five), my hands-on involvement in making her practice sessions exciting grew. I’d invent creative ways for her to remember the notes, and demonstrate how fun it was to play each piece.

Despite my best efforts, four months ago she decided to take a break from piano, but I was hooked. I finished out her lessons for that month, and then continued seeing her teacher on my own.

Tell us about your experiences shopping for a piano.

It’s hard to justify shopping for a piano when the only one who “plays” in the family is a five year old! But just as she was getting bored with her lessons and I was getting smitten, what did I find at a neighborhood estate sale but a beautiful oak upright in great condition! It was – sadly – being used as a dusty shelf for a cluttered array of knick-knacks adorned with bright orange and green price tags. The house had been abandoned and uninhabited for quite awhile, and I felt like I “saved” the instrument from neglected years of sadness when I brought it into our home, cleaned it up, and gave it a second life with our family. This connection I feel to the piano (not to mention the larger space it occupies vs. a keyboard!) motivates me to keep practicing. I feel that the piano appreciates being played, even by my beginner hands.

How does the piano study influence your roles as professor, consultant, and mother?

Playing piano is a great equalizer. The more time, patience, persistence, and devotion you bring to your practice, the better you will play. Assuming you know the alphabet and know your right from your left (both challenges for my little one in the beginning!), your age and education matter very little to how well you play.

I believe this to be true of professional success, both as a business leader and a professor. If you’re smart, willing to work hard, and devoted to what you do, then it doesn’t matter how many years of experience you’ve had or what’s written on your resume. Each professional challenge is a new opportunity to grow and prove yourself, if you embrace it.

As a mom of three young children, playing the piano provides a peaceful meditation during the course of a busy day. I get lost in my own active, but quiet, listening – to the sheet of music, to my mind, to my hands – giving me fuel for whatever craziness is sure to come next.

I first met Stacy ten years ago, when still in my business career, I hired her for my online marketing team at Virgin Mobile USA.  After I left to pursue a career in creative writing, Stacy went on to become the group’s Vice President, a position she held until 2010.  I was thrilled when she recently posted on my Facebook author page that she had signed up for adult piano lessons.
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