Okay, so I just saw a Tony and music headcanon which I absolutely and totally respect, because a classical music Tony is an awesome Tony that is a valid way of viewing the character. However, I also completely and totally disagree with it and didn’t want to highjack that post to disagree. Basically, fellow writer, you’re awesome and so is your headcanon which is totally valid and legit, but I’m gonna rift off it because I keep arguing with the post in my head.
Maria started Tony on the piano at a young age. Howard yelled and complained about how the kid could never keep still, so Maria taught him cords and basic piano warms ups. She told him if he couldn’t keep still, he could go over the piano fingering in his mind. He could even move his fingers if he needed to, going through the motions with his hands at his side as Howard ranted at him about how his latest robot was a failure, and keeping him still enough for photographers to take pictures of the engine while Howard put on his fake smile.
Tony would often hang in the doorway as his mother played and sang, hesitant to come in and interrupt her. Music was numbers and frequencies and all sorts of things that were fascinating to Tony, but he couldn’t quite manage to fit them together into a song.
It wasn’t until Maria came upon Tony struggling through “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel that she teaches him how to play music. Maria the brilliant scientist who loved show tunes could explain to a young Tony Stark how to make music from the notes.
From then on, Tony was a quick study. He would often play as Maria sat by his side and sang along, from My Fair Lady to Evita, he would play and sometimes hesitantly sing along. He fell in love with the quick wit of Cole Porter, often playing a quick bar or two and sing in a sarcastic tone when Howard railed on him for his failures. Maria was always more fond of Irving Berlin, and he’d play “Blue Skies” whenever she was tired or angry.
He always liked it when she played Rodgers and Hammerstein. Sometimes she’d play “Impossible” from Cinderella when Tony felt like he couldn’t meet Howard’s high standards. He was always mesmerized when she sang “Some Enchanted Evening” or “Something Good”.
He sometimes thought about running away and working on Broadway. He never had a way with lyrics, but he could compose a tune. Surely he could find a partner and they’d create loads of shows that would become world famous. But Howard would surely find him, so close to home, and the one time he tried to sneak off to the West End while visiting Aunt Peggy in London ended with her taking out a man who had been following Tony for nefarious purposes. She was kind about it, but she had to take him home.
Soon enough, he gave up on that dream and entered MIT, but he still couldn’t shake stealing away into one of the music shops and playing the occasional tune. Some of the others found out about it and bullied him until he stopped. But Rhodey could sometimes pull him away and ask him to play a song from The Wiz or some of the old Ella Fitzgerald jazz standards. He also started to branch out at this time, coming up with piano versions of rock songs that he would play to make Rhodey laugh.
“Try to Remember” was the last song he heard her play before she died, and was always one of his favorites. It was years before he could listen to the song again, much less play it. Rhodey was the one who sat with him when he finally managed it, softly singing along even though he was never much of a singer because Tony couldn’t quite manage the words.
Steve was shocked to hear old familiar songs coming from the Avengers common room one night when he couldn’t sleep. He walked in to see Tony at the piano, singing some of the old Cole Porter songs. Tony switched over to his own piano rendition of Highway to Hell as soon as he realized Steve was listening, but Steve had already found out. After that, he’d sometimes join Tony, sitting at the piano and listening to the old tunes.
It was during one of those times Tony admitted his mother had taught him, and he played “Try to Remember” for Steve. It wasn’t one he recognized, but it had a soothing melody that made him think of Bucky, who he was still trying to find. It was then Steve decided he could never tell Tony about what the Winter Soldier had done. `Tony was finally in a place where he could play the song as a fond memory, and learning the truth would only cause more pain.
After everything burned down, Steve only felt guilt when he heard the song or looked at a piano. There were a lot of things he would never do differently, but not telling Tony the truth was a mistake.
After everything burned down, Tony sat at the piano, but couldn’t play. He stared at the keys, but couldn’t will his hands to move. When Rhodey would ask him to play, Tony would smile and say he was fine.
He’s always fine.
Sometimes Peter would hear haunting melodies of songs he had never heard before when he visited Avengers Tower. He never found out where they came from, but he kind of liked listening to the old melancholy tunes before Tony finally showed up and gave him the latest upgrades for his suit.