The Piano

The year my brother graduated from High School, he opted to go to Denmark for a year before going to college(he was four when he and my parents emigrated to the US) so that he could develop his sense of the Danish language as well as being with our remaining family members over there(grandmothers, aunts, uncles and cousins).

I was 8 at the time and I remember that year as being difficult for all of us left at home.  In a way, it was like being an only child that year…kind of the calm before the storm.(after he came home, went to college and got married and two children after that…)

It was decided that I was going to take piano lessons and I would have a half hour lesson every week at the Braun School of Music in town…an imposing white Southern Style Mansion with massive marble pillars out front.  My teacher was Miss Stephens…she was always dressed in  high necked black dresses, hair pulled back in a severe bun and cats’ eyes glasses.  Always equipped with a ruler.  Her voice was high pitched and her mood(and pitch of her voice)  depended on the student she’d had before me(I often felt sorry for the student after me!).

I must be honest, I was no musical prodigy.  To be really honest, I still don’t understand why my parents had this fixation that I needed to learn piano…I was severely hard of hearing.  What I would have really enjoyed to do was take dancing lessons or art lessons. ( I think about it now and wonder if my godmother was behind all of this because she was an accomplished pianist and singer…)

I could not read music very well…ok, I couldn’t read music to save my life back then….  I memorized all of the drills and my mother would go over all of the new music with me…what she didn’t know was that I’d memorize it.

I would go for my lesson and Miss Stephens would stand and watch if my fingers hit the wrong notes…she’d whack them with the ruler…being hit with a ruler became more and more painful during the lesson.

There would be a recital every year…I don’t remember having more than one recital…all I remember was how nervous I was…and I remember really messing up my piece, I can still remember looking over at my mother and seeing her pained expression while still trying to smile…

In later years, I tried again.  In High School I took lessons from a band leader and learned chords.  Later still, I decided I was going to practice the classics on my own and the metronome.  I still have the piano but haven’t played it in years.  Maybe its time to give it to someone who honestly has the talent and desire to put it to good use and I can finally bid these old ghosts farewell.

til next time…Eva

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3 thoughts on “The Piano

  1. You could always find it a good home elsewhere and get yourself one of those artistic thumb pianos you’ve had your eyes on instead. I’m sure marching to the beat of your own drums includes choosing your own form of piano music making.

  2. You know Jennifer…that’s a good idea…I also want to get back to my recorder as well…when I used to play my recorder, Benji would start to howl and Zowie would start squawking…maybe that’s going to be one of my big de-clutter projects…<3

  3. I understand how you feel. When I was small my Auntie Lottie gave me her ‘old’ piano. The keys were already half depressed, but it was good for me to learn on because I would never have got a piano any other way. When I went to my lessons, I noticed how much higher the keys were and also how much more responsive. My piano teacher didn’t know I only had a very old, clapped out piano at home. I enjoyed it up to a point, but I begrudged the practising every day. I would much rather have gone out to play in the fresh air. By the time I’d done my practice and got outside, all the other kids were already in the middle of a game! Later on I gave it away but when my own sons were growing up, one of them showed an interest in piano playing and then I wished I’d kept it. We couldn’t afford to buy another one and didn’t have the space to put one anyway so he never got the chance while he was at home. I feel privileged to have had a piano in my youth, albeit an old one and it always looked wonderful at Christmas time, covered in Christmas cards and lighted candles. Thank you for stirring up the memories.
    I think your brother had a great idea to go and spend time in Denmark. My mother was Dutch. I could have done the same thing but I was lucky in that Holland is not so far away from England and I was able to spend all the six week holidays over there most years.

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