Monday, May 24, 2010

Me and My Piano

I came across Sugar Tails post, "Let It Shine" about using your talents at which she specifically mentioned playing piano. It inspired me to write about my piano experience and to start playing again some each day, at least for myself. I kept the piano when I moved out because mom told me I should take it. I have kept it all these years for sentimental reasons and play only occasionally. I used to play for children’s church many years ago but haven’t played much at all since I’ve been married. My cats like to lay on top of it but neither of them like to play it.


Learning to play the piano was something my mom always wanted to do but growing up during the depression, her parents could not afford lessons. Playing the piano was one thing she wanted to give us the opportunity to learn. The church organist was our piano teacher and would come to the house for our lessons. Both my sisters seemed to like the idea. I was willing but didn’t feel I had any musical talent. We practiced each day just by playing through the assigned pieces for that week, going slowly at first to get the notes right.


I didn’t mind practicing, but I did not like the lesson because we had to wear a skirt or dress. I hated having to come inside from playing on a nice summer day to change into a skirt just for my piano lesson. I thought that was ridiculous, but our particular piano teacher insisted. She was a stately, very proper woman but I liked her. Sometimes I even got her to laugh, although I wasn’t trying. She laughed at how tense my wrists were. She would always tell me to relax which I thought was impossible to do while I was playing the piano. She made me nervous so how could I possibly relax?


I was good at reading the music and using the right fingering. Michelle was good at playing by ear. So I would practice and she would pick up the tune from me. My mom noticed it and mentioned it to our teacher who then asked Michelle to play a new piece and found out she couldn’t. Since then, we were assigned different pieces and Michelle learned to read music too. I still cannot play be ear! What I hear is different from what the note actually sounds like. My mom tried to teach me how to sing using that “Do, Ra, Me” song from The Sound of Music but no matter how hard I tried to sing the right note, it came out wrong. If two notes are close together, I can’t even always tell which is higher or lower. Is there such a thing as hearing dyslexia?


I was always hesitant to play for other people although I got to the place of playing for my own enjoyment. The first time I played at church was a duet with Michelle in Jr. Church when we were kids. I was so scared I was going to make a mistake. I was a perfectionist and did not want to embarrass myself. It went very well but we practiced it a lot. I also liked playing the duets with my piano teacher. I guess it made me feel good that I could actually play with such a good piano player.


I don’t remember how many years that I took lessons, but I know it was shortly after I had to start memorizing the music. The best thing was that my piano teacher did not have recitals. Either that or my mom just didn’t want us to participate in them, I’m not sure which it was. I was happy that we did not have to do that though. Our piano teacher gave lessons to other girls at church too. My mom told me one day that my piano teacher said out of all her students, I could be a concert pianist! I said, what? No way! What is she thinking? I never did figure out what caused her to think that.

Is there anything you learned to do that you have not done in a long time? What talent are you hiding?

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Mayberry said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog! I have my childhood piano too. It should probably be tuned ... :)

Karen & Gerard Zemek said...

I KNOW mine has never been tuned since I've been married--going on 13 years. Last time it was tuned, the guy said he couldn't get it all the way right because it was too far out of tune so he suggested coming back soon to do some more work. Oops.

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