Posted by: Marie | September 6, 2011

(589) Rollercoasters and puzzles – Part 2 of 3

Post #589
[Private journal entry written on Thursday, March 10, 2011 – continued from previous post]

There is another client with which I’ve really connected . . . a family . . . they became clients about a month ago through a referral from another existing client . . .

The dad (James) is a cop and the mom (Cindy) is a paramedic . . . and their 7-year-old daughter (Sara, only child) is taking lessons. The parents are about my age and they are “my kind” of people. They laugh a lot, they are a bit red-neck but still very professional. The whole bunch of them are smart and interested and engaging . . . and I’ve really connected with them.

The parents are very involved in the lessons. They take notes and slide up to the keyboard to try out new techniques . . . they always speak encouragingly to the daughter . . . I’m so glad that this little girl has such cool parents . . . both parents engage with her deeply and positively . . . including her dad. I so love to see that kind of a relationship between a dad and a daughter.

Photo by Martin Chen

Sometimes the mom brings the daughter, sometimes the dad, and sometimes they both come – it just depends on their rotating work schedules. I’ve been fortunate enough that their timeslot has 10-15 minutes of free time between their lesson and the next – so, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with them about their lives and their histories and how they met and what they are passionate about . . . I’ve really enjoyed our chats.

We have an in-studio recital coming up in about 7-8 weeks from now. A couple of weeks ago, I had this brainstorm that the three of them could play Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” at the recital. There is a simple version of it in the daughter’s lesson book and she fell in love with the piece. She played it over and over and over until they had to put a limit on it . . . she now is only allowed to play it three times a day. LOL!

So, I created an arrangement that has a bit more of the piece in it, and I divided up the notes into three parts: two-note bass/tenor line played by the dad (one note per hand), a one-note alto line played by the mom (she wasn’t doing as well as the dad at learning how to read music, so she could handle only one note at a time), and then the melody line is for the daughter to play. The daughter decided she most likes the flute voice on the keyboard for the melody, so I arrange the music so she could have her own keyboard (flute voice) and her mom and dad could share the other keyboard (piano voice).

As I created the arrangement (audio file), I could picture in my mind’s eye the three of them gathered around the piano – the daughter having the piece down perfectly, impatiently trying to help her parents as they struggled to learn their parts . . . all three of them laughing hardily the entire time. That is what I saw most in my mind . . . the three of them laughing their big laughs while they tackled this project as a family . . .

After I got it all arranged, I hesitantly approached them with the idea . . . would they be brave enough to learn it for the recital . . . ???

They said they would check it out. They took the music home with them . . . and, a couple of days later, I got this email from the dad:

We were working on our piano trio (?) last night. Holy smokes! I should videotape it as we had a lot of fun — nowhere near being together but it was fun. Our plan (Cindy and I) is to play it together at the recital – Sara isn’t too excited because mom and dad go too slow. It will be interesting to see it come together. Thanks for the opportunity!!

I knew it! I knew they would make it a fun and playful activity! And, they’re going to play it at the recital! Awesome!

Anyway . . . there is an interesting therapy-related “thing” with this family . . . well, with the dad.

As I already mentioned, James is a cop. Well, more specifically, he is a supervisory investigator in the “crimes against people” division in one of the bigger nearby towns. He deals with murders and rapes and assaults and child abuse – and he deals with the victims of those crimes – day in and day out.

He has a impressive physical presentation – athletic, action-oriented build – which is balanced by a (solid? grounded?) and very gentle manner. I immediately felt very safe with him . . . I knew immediately I would never have to worry about him crossing physical boundaries and I knew I would never have to worry about him being emotionally abusive. I knew from day one that I didn’t have to have my guard up around him – I recognized that he is emotionally available to people in general – which is rare for a cop, to be sure – while simultaneously being loyal to his wife.

I guess you could say he seems to be “psychologically aware” and “emotionally awake”. He is exactly the kind of guy I’d want coming to protect me and comfort me after a (god forbid) assault . . .

One day, after his daughter’s lesson, he and I visited for a few minutes while his daughter played with the toys in the waiting area a few yards from us. He asked about how I got into teaching piano . . .

I started my answer by saying, “Well, it’s a strange story . . . ”

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


  1. They sound like a delightful family. Looking forward to seeing what you said next.

    • Hey, Evan –

      They are a neat family . . . I think a lot of them!

      – Marie

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