Remember the Heart

My son had a piano teacher who lives and breathes music.  While to me it was great accomplishment that a 10 year old could play a complicated sonata with only a few mistakes, this teacher cared less about wrong notes and much more about the emotion expressed by the passage. “This phrase is the voice of a young man crying out to his beloved! Play her passionate reply,” she said with urgency. Meanwhile, I was sure that male-female passion was a foreign concept to my son.  More likely, his was fantasizing about street hockey with pals after the lesson. Not satisfied with his progress as they prepared for an upcoming piano competition, the teacher arranged a session for him with a professor at a local university. As we drove into town, I expected the trip to be pointless. The professor listened intently as my son played.  Then she asked him to pause while she drew a tiny heart above a notes in the stilted passage. “Try again, and when you reach this note, remember the heart!” This time when he played, the sound produced by that very same key expressed a totally different feeling.  It had heart.  Magical! Many years later, the image of that little heart still comes to mind. I notice that life just isn’t as enjoyable when I forget the heart. This time of year can be mechanical, with activities meant to forge connection feeling like unwelcome chores.  What if, while writing cards, wrapping gifts, cooking the holiday meal, you were to remember the heart?  For me, it makes all the difference.