First Impressions: Part VI

The author at Lake Sevan

Worry. Fear. Topics of a few conversations as I sit at Lake Sevan with Musical Armenia Project attendees. “I don’t have time to worry about church and things like that.” “I don’t have enough faith for that.” I’m listening. I am also engaging in the day, pondering.

My journal entry for July 25th states: “Every morning Penelope Cruz and Charles Aznavour meet me on my way to the music school. They smile and pose but say nothing.” Their pictures are displayed in more than life-sized splendor. They are silent witnesses to my practice times at the music school and the numerous cab rides to and from the Karpetian Center.

I am struggling to produce the sound and interpretation of two pieces written by Armenian composersone by Tatev Amiryan and the other by Edward Mirzoyan. They are nothing like anything I would even gravitate to perform on the piano. I am more classical, pop, jazz, gospel, country, indieanything but 21st century composer-driven. In my practice session, I found the key.

Even though Ronald Reagan said it first in 1987 in regards to the Berlin Wall, I felt a nudging in my spirit to do the sameto tear down the wall that separates me from my gentle side. For years, I have chased away the shadows of tenderness in exchange for more testosterone. I’ve been playing the piano too aggressively. Svetlana is calling me to sweetness to be embodied in my performance. THIS is why I sit on my porch every day at home with tears and feelings of hopelessness. THIS choice has been my robber. I choose to chain him and put him away for good. 

Svetlana and I

In this, there is an understanding that I didn’t have before.

The dam has broken as I continue in practicing the piano, but now I hear differently.

The author playing the piano

“Papoog, gentle, sweet, be at rest when you play, break with the pedal, don’t bang out certain notes, blur, light, let it sing, hear new harmonies and melodies, use your imagination.” As I performed, I felt like I was floating on a cloud. New things, new feelings. And as I perform in the recital, I sense a culmination of weeks of sowing into my soul in a place I had never been: Armenia.

I didn’t want to go. I’m so grateful to the Lord that I didn’t spend my summer at home in Connecticut. 

“Apres.” That’s all I needed to hear from my piano teacher to know. “Well done!” I’d come full circle. And my playing style had to be crushed in order for it to come to life again. Yes, I am very glad I kept my maiden name so I could remember: Hartunian. Resurrected from the dead. These thoughts converge in a split second.  

Now, I can live AND play the piano in peace.


Khor Virap
Ruth Hartunian-Alumbaugh
Ruth Hartunian-Alumbaugh is a Board Certified, Registered Music Therapist who calls faith, food and family her holy trinity. She lives in Connecticut and writes a food blog (Ravings and Cravings) for her local newspaper, The Chronicle.
Ruth Hartunian-Alumbaugh

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