Her music teacher gave up on her but this wonder woman persisted
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REXBURG — Valerie Doggett has been playing the piano for over 50 years, but she only took lessons for two.
“I see it as just black dots. I don’t know how to count,” she says during a conversation with EastIdahoNews.com. “Once I hear it, I can do it. If I have a hymn book or any music in front of me, I can see the dots, and I just know where they go on the piano.”
The Rexburg mother took piano lessons in first and second grade. She remembers riding her bike down Utah country roads to her piano teacher’s home during those formative years.
“One day when I was waiting to play the piano because there was another student there. An older girl was playing the most beautiful song I’d ever heard,” Doggett says. “I remember thinking, ‘I want to play that song.'”
When it was her turn with the teacher a few minutes later, Doggett began playing Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata.’ It was just like the student before, but her teacher was not impressed.
“She says ‘What are you doing?’ and I said, ‘I’m playing a song.’ She goes, ‘Where’s the music?’ and I said ‘Well, uh, there isn’t any music. I’m just playing it because it’s so pretty,'” Doggett recalls. “She went and called my mom and said that she would not be able to teach me piano lessons anymore.”
Doggett didn’t let the discouragement of her teacher hold her back. Instead, it pushed her forward.
“How can you help a child who’s sitting there playing ‘Moonlight Sonata’ in first grade,” Doggett says. “I played by ear and she knew that, but she just wasn’t trained on how to help me.”
Doggett says sounds of orchestras and various songs come to her in the middle of the night.
“I’ll get up and go and play it on my synthesizer and have it recorded because the next morning, when I wake up, it’s gone (from my mind),” Doggett says.
Doggett knows her gift is special and not everyone can play by ear like she can.
“When I hear a song being played on the radio or any place, it’s like I am just moved by it,” Doggett says. “It brings tears to my eyes, and I just want to go and play it.”
Doggett’s children have grown up surrounded by their mother’s natural ability for music.
“It actually became a game for us as kids because we’d find a song on the radio, or hear some new music, and so we’d always try to see if we could outsmart mom and get a song that she couldn’t play,” son Matthew Doggett says. “But she’d always proved us wrong, and was able to play it.”
Doggett has co-written musical numbers for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is now in charge of the music in a Brigham Young University-Idaho LDS student stake and she looks forward to using her gifts to uplift others.
“Some of us have many and some of us have a few, but I just feel like if we really try and strive really, really hard to find those gifts, our lives will be so full of joy,” Doggett says.