Monday, August 31, 2009

Memory Monday: The piano and me: An Introduction

I think we'll spend a few Mondays with the piano.

Since I was six years old, I've only spent 4 years without a piano within immediate range. Even in college, I could find a piano. In my last year, the dorm lobby featured a grand. I was never its equal but plenty were and it was a joy to hear it sing. The 4 years without were my spouse's grad school years. Away from home, in a small apartment, there wouldn't have been room for a piano had we had one. A move, a larger apartment, a for-sale upright sitting in the breezeway... but I get ahead of myself.

Where to start? My mother must have wanted my sister and me to learn to play, an opportunity she would most assuredly not had. But in order to take lessons, one must practice at home, and so a piano had to be found. I can remember going into the country to the home of an older cousin of my mother's and getting the upright piano that was our first. I think Mother paid $25 for it, at least that's the number which stands out. It was brought home, sequestered in the... omigosh! I don't remember where it was put. I remember its replacement, a spinet, much better, and can still see it sitting in the living room, but the upright? The starter piano? I don't remember where it went.

I don't even remember my first lesson. I was in second grade, I think, and would have been nervous. Miss Tennessee Strickland, Miss Tennie we called her, was my teacher for the 10 years I took lessons. I can pull out my old music and still smile at her handwriting on my pages. I don't think I always smiled at it. Let's face it: music lessons, if you are only mildly talented, a technician on your best days, music lessons are a love-hate relationship.

Am I glad I play? Oh certainly. I still have that breezeway upright in my den, lovingly tended and freshly tuned. A house seems empty without a piano. Can't imagine it. But practice? Oh....

But it must have had a long-term effect on me. I write about musicians, seven of my heroes and one of my heroines are talented people who ooze rhythm, whose fingertips drip talent. Just not mine. My fingertips are meant to drip words.

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