Mary Miereki: Tell-All on Life of Music


Q&A with Mary Miereki, an East Lyme resident, church organist and piano teacher. Ms. Miereki has worked dedicating her adulthood to helping her students and colleagues release stress and make life-long bonds – all through the power of music.


Viking Saga: What inspired you to first start getting involved with music?

Mary Miereki: I started in second grade. My family had a restaurant and the Lions and Rotary Club always held their meetings there. They always began their meeting with a singing time, they had “Lions Song Book” and my mom would always accompany them on the piano. That was my main memory of my mom playing my piano, and I knew that I wanted to be able to do what she did.

VS: What was this experience like for you and how does it translate into your life now?

MM: There was definitely that sense of community because everyone was involved and singing. Everyone in that room was a man, but they relied on my mom, and when she wasn’t there, they wouldn’t sing. That translated into my life because I don’t have classical music training, or a music degree, my degree is in business. I might not have the resume of somebody who went to college for a performance degree, but I really connect with the people in the room that I work with. There was a contemporary Christian musician who said that his band should be like “an arrow pointing to God.” That’s how I feel with my role in the church- I don’t want people to notice me; I want to help them connect as a community and point their arrow to God. I have good success with that.

VS: What is it like working with people in a setting like church?

MM: My church has two people who have

performance degrees for voice, and they tell me that I’m a good accompanist. We have a relationship where I love playing with them, and they love singing with me. It’s such a mutual and rewarding relationship. We have such strong bonds even after knowing each other for only a few years. When I had my hip surgery, one of my singers was here every other day just helping with little things and keeping me company. I didn’t have to ask him, but he knew I needed it, and I would like to thank music for giving us that friendship.

Ms. Miereki directing her church’s choir.

VS: Can you describe the greatest moments in giving private lessons?

MM: Teaching is a highlight of my week. I love those moments with new adult students and they walk in not remembering anything about piano. Within 10 minutes of the lesson, they start to remember things. I had a student who was feeling really sad one day, and we talked around different ways with piano to be able to help with that sadness. I had an adult student who wanted to play the Beatles and she started crying. She said, “I remember singing this with my dad and he would be so happy I’m able to play this now.” It was such a beautiful moment to see the power of music in all of my students’ lives.

VS: Tell me about the feeling that you get from playing piano.

MM: When I’m just playing without outside distractions, it’s a feeling of getting lost in the music. My daughter loves to go out on long runs, and for most people it doesn’t sound fun, but it’s a similar feeling. She goes out and gets lost in pushing her body, and for me with piano I can focus on that and forget about everything else. It is a release from stress because I’m not thinking about anything that is bothering me, I’m just in the music. It’s a goal for me to provide music for my students to have songs that they can play for when they are happy and sad.

VS: What would you say to someone who is considering starting to play an instrument?

MM: I would encourage anyone to try a musical instrument, whether it is voice or what we commonly consider instruments, and give themselves the chance to explore to see how you can best express yourself with music. Don’t be tied to other ideas of what it should sound like or how you should go about it, just experiment and have fun with it.

Listening to music comes with benefits (information from Healthline, medically reviewed from Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D.)

Music can help improve:

– Learning
– Memory
– Fatigue

-Mental illness
– Mood

Overall, for many, music is an escape from daily stressors and ease difficulties such as learning, sleep, and depression.