Grandma Rosa

After 34 Years, I Start Back to the Piano…And Find Grandma Rosa

Grandma Rosa
Grandma Rosa from the cover of her self-published 400-page historical novel “Acequia Madre.”

This afternoon, as I am starting a new Italian etude on my new (used) Clavinova, I am so happy. It feels so good to be playing piano at home again after being away for 34 years. (Until a couple of weeks ago, I had to practice at my work.)

I was working out the fingering, and suddenly, I begin thinking of my favorite grandmother, Rosa. We got along great, even though I rarely saw her. We lived in Greeley, Colorado, far away from Abilene, Texas, and got together only every couple of years.

And today, I realized that in addition to being a lot of fun, warm, loving and incredibly generous (Culver would not have been possible with out her), Grandma Rosa was a pianist. She was the church organist and choir accompanist for the little, country Methodist church near her house. She had been a concert pianist, but married and had children instead. And gave her community the gift of her music.

It is through her line that I can trace my Welsh roots, where I think a lot of this music comes from. But today, I placed a photo of her on my piano (she died in 2004). I love the idea of knowing her through the music she loved to play – church music, little classical pieces and Italian etudes like the one I’m working on this afternoon.

How Music Saved Me…

It might sound dramatic, but I think that Music saved me. And I’m beginning to think that Music is one of the great conduits for communicating with the Cosmos and the Divine.

I was born into a musical family. We sang car songs, listened to the classical music radio station, and chose our church based on who had the best organ and choir director. Dogma was nearly irrelevant; the quality of music was what counted.

And I was born into a violent family. Both of my parents were abused themselves, and passed on what they knew – hate, neglect, pain and suffering. They were doing their best, but they did not know how to love. When I was lonely, stuck in an unheated basement room, the radio would keep me company all night. Plus, I got to listen to the forbidden rock-n-roll and pop station.

Eventually, the violence became too much, and I left home and music at age 15. I did not know what an arid place the world was without music making. I didn’t know that I had grown up not just in a musical family, but in a musical town and community. I thought that every child got daily musical education in public school. Ha!

I went into business and journalism, looking for some kind of work that would sustain me. And I got to be quite good at it. But it was never rhythmic or musical. And for that reason, it never felt satisfying. I got sick, malnourished really, from not having enough music in my life.

Then I started playing harp, and I thought I was home. But then I started teaching and realized that I could play many more instruments than the harp. I brushed the dust off my piano skills, and found that I played better than I remembered. I learned flute and ukulele, and taught voice and other instruments. In the end, it was helping others find their way back to music that began to heal me.

Because of my past, I never wanted to be identified as a child of anyone. Being a child meant putting myself in a dangerous situation. But lately, as I have worked with more children and parents, I am able to see that I lived through an extraordinary situation, and that it’s ok to be a child of the Cosmos or the Divine.

But it doesn’t happen overnight. As one friend pointed out, if you’ve been outside in the cold for a while, you need to warm-up and thaw out before you hop in a hot tub. I’ve been outside for a very long time, and I am gradually starting to thaw. As the thaw happens, I am able to separate Music from my past history, and enjoy it more in the present.

That is a wonderful gift.

YouTube: “Writing Letters Home”

I frequently feel homesick for the stars, for that place that seems always to be slightly out of reach. I felt most close to it once morning when we were vacationing on the west end of Molokai Island, Hawai’i. I had the honor of watching this gorgeous moon set. Later, I composed and recorded the music for this meditation.

I played it on a Paraguayan Harp, recorded at my home with simple equipment.



At last…I’m back.

Blog Bio Triptych Cymber Lily Quinn, holistic harpist, composer, and teacherWhew, what a journey! I got mal-ware on my last website right around the time I suffered a big back injury. My website has been down for a month, and I’ve been learning about domain registry, proxy security, and how to install WordPress.

Thanks for your patience while I get this website up and going again. I look forward to hearing from you. Please send notes to aloha { at }