My Instrument Grant: Julie Lambert

Since 2014, I have watched hundreds of children receive instruments from Music Doing Good. To witness the joy that it brings them is truly priceless. One of my favorite parts of my job is to accompany the program director on instrument grants. Not once did I imagine what it would be like to be on the receiving end.

Just before Christmas, I received a phone call from my step mom, Marge. She told me that she was selling her house and downsizing to an apartment. During the phone call, Marge asked me what I would do if someone gave me a piano. Of course, my response was, “I would love it and play it every day!” At that point, she told me that she would rather know that it was in the hands of someone who appreciated it, than to auction it off to a stranger. And Marge offered me the piano!

I was now the proud owner of a 1908 Steinway & Sons “O” also known as the “small grand” by the piano maker. A member of the Steinway family had signed the inside of the piano and accompanied it to Houston for the purchase in 1984. I knew that this was a very special instrument. In fact, I had played this very Steinway numerous times over the years.

1908 Steinway & Sons “O”

As often happens with events that are meant to be, everything fell into place like a symphony. The only place in my home that would accommodate the instrument was the dining room. Within a week, my dining room table and chairs found a new home with a friend who had lost all of her furniture in Hurricane Harvey. Living in a condo, I knew I would need to thick rug to absorb the sound. I immediately found an online sale and had a rug delivered to my door within a couple of days. A friend recommended a piano moving company and they were able to do it within a week. I could not believe how the Universe had completely supported this piano coming into my life!

When I was a young child, my mom bought a baby grand piano. I was immediately fascinated by the sound and by age six, I was taking private lessons in our home. I continued to take a lesson a week until I was sixteen years old and went away for school. I continued to play periodically through my early thirties, but finally I ceased to play.

Julie Lambert as a teen at the piano.

It is a strange experience to relearn music after an 18-year hiatus. To struggle through music that I once had committed to memory has been exhilarating and frustrating at the same time. I determined that the best way for me to get reacquainted with the piano was to go back to the music I learned first. Little did I know that it would also bring back the feelings and experiences that I had growing up in my house.

During my pre-teen and teenaged years, tensions ran very high in my house leading up to my parent’s divorce. Along with the music came memories that I had long suppressed. At first, it was difficult for me to address the emotions again. Every note carried a heavy load, but I couldn’t let that stop me from playing.

The Lambert Family c. 1972

Bringing up old and painful experiences is also an opportunity to release and reframe them. It has taken several weeks for me to really see that every emotion that has come up is a gift. The joy of playing music has always been there, I just didn’t realize what else was lurking in the shadows. I am even more grateful now for the opportunity and ability to play music. I am infinitely grateful for this incredible piano. And, I now know how special it feels to be given an instrument…and a second chance at music.

If you are an adult who has let your musical ability go dormant, I encourage you to revisit it. Not only will give yourself a lifetime of joy through music, but perhaps you will have a catharsis as well.