Leeya Howley, San Jose, California

“My musical journey started off a lot like the average South Bay Area kid’s — I was forced into learning the piano by my parents when I was 5. Every day I had to be reminded to play, argued with my brother over who had to practice first, and looked to the clock every few minutes to see how much longer I had to work through Alfred’s Basic Piano Library tunes.

It wasn’t for a while until I realized that my feelings toward music had changed; it only took, like, 7 years, but finally I was starting to actually enjoy piano. In fact, I started to love it. One of the big factors of my change of heart was when I discovered sheet music to my favorite anime, video game, or pop songs on the internet, and found out that I could play these myself. This newfound excitement for practicing helped give me an appreciation of the classical repertoire my piano teacher was assigning me, and suddenly, music and I were inseparable.

Right before my final MTAC (Music Teachers Association of California) exam, I ended up having to quit piano. I had worn out my hands to the point of overuse injury, and, coupled with a sprained thumb from a P.E. mishap, there wasn’t much of a choice. Though cliché, the phrase “you don’t know what you have ’til its gone” was true. Not being able to play really made me realize how much music meant to me, and how big of a part it was of my life. After a year I decided to try again, even at the risk of re-injuring my hands; fortunately, since then I have been able to keep playing so long as I know my limits.

Music has shaped my life in many ways. I’ve met some of my friends through it while having some of the best times of my life at a summer arts program, I’ve had the chance to develop my creativity by attempting to arrange or compose my own songs, I’ve had a productive outlet from reality whenever I sit down to play. In the future, I know that no matter what else I’ll be doing in life, playing the piano will always be part of it.”

— Leeya Howley, San Jose

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