DREAMING FOR TOMORROW by Sonni Quick
Today, I “talked” with another blogger with the name of midimike. He is a sound engineer. He, like me, has been a musician for quite a number of years and we talked about our growth as musicians and the good and not so good music we have written through the years. You have to start somewhere! He has posted a lot of his early music on his site so it’s easy to hear his journey. I started playing when I was seven knew by the age of ten I was going to teach piano – even though I really didn’t know how to play very well yet. I dragged my friends into my house from playing outside, because i was going to teach them how to play.
I didn’t get along with my piano teachers because I didn’t want to play the music they wanted to teach me. I don’t think I had more than about three years of lessons if you put them all together. I wanted to play what I wanted to play. I got out the theory books I taught myself. One teacher actually fired me when I was about 13 and told me not to come back. I did go back at age 17, knowing I was leaving for college the next year as a music major and I needed him to correct bad habits, and fill in a few gaps. I was his only student who ever turned professional. I went back and visited with him when I was about twenty-five. I had to be careful though because he also liked me to sit on his lap when i was a kid. I was so naive. He was such a letch. But he was a damn good piano player and a very good teacher. He was a professional musician and played the piano bars in the area.
Early in my career I played many piano bars before I switched to fronting bands. If you ever want to take music lessons, or provide them for your children do not ever have them taught by someone who only teaches what they had been taught and never learned to create music of their own. If all they can do is read the notes on a piece of paper someone else wrote down, you will never learn to be creative. They will teach the creativity right out of the student because they don’t know how to do it. You will only mimic other people. After age 13 I taught myself what I needed to know and practiced more hours than any teacher would have tried to force me to do. While everyone was out there singing “Jeremiah was a Bull Frog” I was immersed in Andre Previn and Van Clyburn. Proof of this for me is in my son, who is an incredible piano player, with the fastest fingers I’ve ever seen, because he watched me and developed his own style of playing. A regular teacher would have destroyed that, unless he/she was a professional. Now his 8 year old son is watching him and playing, and his daughter does the same thing on guitar. Amazing.
Now, the reason why I am posting this on Jamie’s blog is because the heavy emotions I have felt writing these posts and translating his letters is sometimes overwhelming emotionally. Most of the music you will find on https://mynameisjamie.net/sonni-quick-improvisational-piano-music, which are twelve more pieces written because of this emotion I felt when transcribing his letters. There are a few, though i wrote for other people. “I’m Sorry” was written for my mother. “Sadness” was written for my daughter. But it was hiss letters that made me want to write again. I hope to include them with the book I am writing, “Inside The Forbidden Outside”.
I had been sick for a long time. I had to quit playing. My brain wasn’t communicating with my fingers so I couldn’t even hold a pen and write my name, so I couldn’t play the piano, either. I had to type with one finger. I couldn’t scramble an egg. My husband did everything for me. All I could was stand and look at my piano with a feeling of such sadness and loss. My last gig was about 12 years ago. I didn’t feel I had the right to call myself a musician any longer. I lost my identity. I lost everything. I lost myself. I lost a store I owned that catered to the tourists coming off the cruise ships in Key West. My husband and I had to downsize into a 10×10 room in my mothers house. I thought I was moving home and would have a family who cared. That was stupid. I was gone too long and they had no idea who I was and didn’t care to know. At the first time of any problems while sick they erased me. I’m still erased. I wasn’t worth the time of trying to find out who I was. The have no clue. I became easy to sweep under the carpet. I doubt, at this point, it can be fixed. Those were hard times, while I was waiting on the liver transplant list.
Those who have a profession built on who they are will understand the grief that comes with losing something that represents who you are. What if you were a painter who couldn’t paint? An athlete who could no longer play a sport he trained his entire life for? An inmate who was denied a life at all and was locked up in a box that was 5×8 big, smaller than most bathrooms?
Some people who get “laid off” go look for another job. It is not the same. Some people work a job and that pays them money, but that job would not define who they are. They “leave” work and go home and go through the motions of living and trying to do things that make them happy, until they have to get up and go once more to a job that pays them, keeps their insurance going, pays the bills, but have an empty space in their life they can’t quite put their finger on and don’t know how to change it. When decades pass the misery builds and you don’t know how to have a leap of faith and turn the apple cart upside down and start again while you still have a chance. When I lost my music it cut my heart out. Getting it back made me whole again.
I can play again. In the last 2 years my playing changed. It became a way to express the feelings I have inside so I can hear it on the outside. Every one of my compositions has a story behind it that pulled the emotions out. It changed because I lived through my illness. It is a tangible part of me that I can leave behind that will tell people who I am. It’s all there in the music, like photographs we look at of people who have passed. What can I leave my grandchildren? And their children, to show that I was here. I am not here to many of my family who is alive today because they aren’t interested. I have no value to them. I disappeared and will play no part in their future generations. But it is my own future generations who will learn – it’s important to have something you have to fight for it. You have to have passion.
Where do you get that passion? The only thing I know is that if you continue to do what you’ve always done you will continue to get what you’ve always got. Unhappiness breeds more unhappiness unless you change what you are doing. The only legacy you can really leave behind is the effect you have had on other people. All of the petty shit means absolutely nothing in a hundred years. But my music can still be here in a 100 years. All because I lived through my illness. It was the reason for it happening. This is what it taught me. It opened my eyes. It was the cause and effect of shooting up drugs over 40 years ago that led to this. But if you can take a negative and turn it into a positive, then there can be no feeling sorry for myself for going through this – still going through this today. I have a mother who understands and sisters who don’t have a clue. This is their loss. But my life will go on. Will theirs? What will their life say about them? I think everyone wrestles with this thought at some point in their life – usually at the end. all I know is that I will have no regrets. My life made me who I am and if I had the choice to do it all over again, I would do it, if this is what it taught me. Today there is an appreciation for my life that is different from what it used to be. Life is not to be wasted. You need to live as though today is your last day and use every drop of it.
Today, midimike gave me the inspiration to sit and compose another another piece of music, so this is for him. Understand, I only improvise. Played once and done. If I don’t record while I play, it’s gone. Because of problems I still have, sitting and playing the piano is extremely painful after about 15 minutes. Today I managed 45 before I gave in to the pain. I recorded five pieces back to back and this piece is one of them. One more thing. It is pouring down rain right now and the sound is just the right background for this.
PLEASE – if you don’t have a good speaker system, use headphones so it doesn’t sound like it’s coming through a tin can.