Many pianists (and other musicians for that matter) take pride in their pedagogical heritage. For example: 'My teacher, Miss. Buttons was taught by Mr. Clever, who was taught by Sir Herring, once a student of Herr Fisch, when Beethoven taught Musik fur Blochkopfs.'
Anycase, I have no lineage of that sort. I began singing when I was in fourth grade (otherwise known as 9-10 year olds). My parents, to be precise...my mother, began me on the piano when I was 4.
I hated it. I hated it with a bloody passion. I was never good enough to get to the refining points, so I was constantly sick of my pieces. The few I did learn well enough to perform are forever ingrained in my (and I'm sure my brother, sister, grandparents, and parents') mind.
I liked to sing. I'd been part of the angel chorus at church during the Christmas Nativity play. I used to get up and sing hymns by myself as soon as I could stand alone. It wasn't until I was 9, and taking voice, that I sang my first 'real' piece. I decided it was real because instead of singing what the piano was playing for melody, I had to hold the melody all on my own. The piece was called 'The Shepherd' and it was based on the parable of the lost sheep. I hear it now and cringe, but then it was really hard.
I took voice lessons, once a week, every week for 11 years. My first teacher, Miss Boyd was my siblings piano teacher and my parents asked her to do it so that I would stay in music. I was soon moved to the choir teacher for the local academy (high school), Miss Butler. When it looked like the voice thing was actually taking, I was transferred to Mrs. Valenti.
Mrs. Valenti was a choir director for various organizations in Atlanta, GA. She was, in that good way you realize later, a termigant. I learned to breathe differently, I learned to stand differently, I learned to smile differently, I learned to think differently. All this was for the purpose of learning to give my body the room and muscle support it needed to sing. And not only that, sing well.
I sang in recitals, for church, at school functions. I sang in the shower, in the car, at the dinner table. I pretty much drove everyone crazy.
I got sick of singing the songs I was assigned. I had a book of Italian Song, a German Liederbuch, a stack almost waist high of sacred songs. But, I had nothing secular. I bought some, but other than fluke instances I never sang secular songs.
When I finished academy, following tutelage under Mrs. Brannan and Mrs. Zarandosa (we're not in Atlanta anymore, Toto...), I was awarded the National Choral Award and a large scholarship for vocal study at my alma mater, Southern Adventist University.
During my time at Southern I sang solos on tour with the Chorale (an open membership group) and with I Cantori (a chamber music group). While I enjoyed the solo work I did from Ralph Vaughn Williams 'Requiem' and others better, I will probably always be best know for the televised version we did one Christmas of the Messiah.
I did work on the side to bolster my income from working as a photographer by singing for organist friends churches' on weekends. If I was lucky, the spoils could be more than $100 for a given Sunday. (Though, it did mean twice the church going...Saturday and Sunday. :) )
I stopped taking voice when I left for Chicago. All told, I had 14 years of work invested in the art. I don't regret it.
And you say, why the long post? I'm afraid and sad. I seem to have lost my voice, post-surgery. What was a voice with a range from C3 to A5 is now barely more than a few notes. They say it may come back in time, but I don't know.
There is nothing like walking out onto an empty stage...no instrument to hide behind, no keys to keep hands from figiting, and, on occasion, no music to put a barrier between yourself and the listener...and just sing. I never did sing any secular music on stage, but I don't feel like I've missed anything that much like I used to. While I believe that my love of God has other outlets, there is a moment when lifting up your voice and letting the music He has given pour out that is incomparable.
I don't know what will happen with my voice. I do know that because music is so much a part of me I need to find another outlet for it.
So, I'm working on piano again. After all that fighting against it, here I am again.