I was pleased to see that Ramana posted the Biblical passage about talents in his post. My first thought when thinking about talents is that we should be like the man in that scriptural passage that took the talents he had been given, and multiplied them. Each of us is born in to this world with different, unique, innate talents. I often wonder if there are talents I possess that I haven't even pursued! But today I want to tell you about how I developed one of my talents.
When I was young I took an interest in playing the piano. My sister Nene attempted to teach me, but I was inattentive, (probably A.D.D.), and resistant to lessons. Later I began to try to teach myself. My mother had been taught a little bit when she was a girl. There were two men who came through town teaching piano lessons. My mother took a few of those lessons, and learned the basics. The men were German, and there were suspicions that they had escaped Germany because of Hitler's uprising power. But they were able to make their living going town to town, and my mother learned what she could in the short time they were around. So when I tried to learn, she helped me the best she could.
I picked up enough that I began to learn to read music, and I taught myself to play some of the songs in the beginning music book. Finally my mother heard about a piano teacher named Mamie Neal, who played the piano for the symphony in our town. Her lessons were very inexpensive, so my mother signed me up. Mrs. Neal charged $12 a month, and for that fee I was given two piano lessons a week, and was required to attend a "theory" class on Saturday morning. What a deal!
I was very afraid of Mrs. Neal, and she was quite strict. But she was a very good teacher! The theory classes were held in her garage, and lasted 2 hours. She had converted her garage to a studio, and had homemade chalkboards on all of the walls. She had little benches in front of each chalkboard. She would have us draw a musical staff, and write out a measure of music. Sometimes she would tell us the time signature she wanted us to use. Then the whole class would clap the rhythm of each person's measure of music. Sometimes she would have us play a game where she would have us close our eyes, and she would play a note on the piano. Then she would have one of us come up and see if we could find that key on the piano.
As I mentioned before, she was very strict, and I was very afraid of her. After one year of lessons, I begged my mother to not make me take lessons any more. I cried and begged. She finally agreed. And so even though I would have had a wonderful education from Mrs. Neal, I was left on my own. I began to try to learn more and more difficult music. As time went on, I did progress, although certainly not at the pace I would have.
Our church is a volunteer church, and we aren't paid for our service in it. As I grew older, I was asked to play the piano for different occasions. At first I was asked to play for the children's meetings. The songs they sang were simple, so I would practice them so that I could play well. In the process my playing improved! Then I was asked to play actual hymns for the youth meetings. These were more difficult, but I progressed enough to play them. Then I was asked as a teenager to play for our church choir. Again, I progressed as I practiced the songs. So you see, having to play the piano actually was my schooling!
I feel bad that some of my talents in life have gone by the way side. Because I wasn't forced to use them, they haven't improved. I hope that I can push myself to progress in those areas as well. I don't want to leave this life with regrets that I didn't use my talents to their best potential!