Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Piano

Bubba bought me a piano when I was 6 months old, because "Every child should have a piano," (with the "Duh!" implied). I carted that piano around, from Oceanside to Staten Island to Chicago to Tiburon. I'd play it every once in a while, but it was mostly a remembrance of my grandmother's love.

I kept it tuned, and watched Little Cuter enjoy herself immensely, sitting with perfect posture and curved fingers, making music. Moving from teacher to teacher until the last one left to run a nursing home business somewhere in the Midwest and her interests turned to other things, without her the instrument became a piece of furniture.

HansO, our handyman-cum-twenty-something-role-model-and-friend, took it for his mother. It was hard to say goodbye, but I knew it would be loved.

Besides, no matter how many lessons G'ma paid for, no matter how much I really wanted to learn, no matter how much I tried to catch the beat, it didn't take long for me to recognize the sad truth - I can't carry a tune in a bucket, with the lid on.

I tried out for chorus in elementary school; two or three of us didn't make the cut. G'ma sent me to voice lessons with my piano teacher, an ill-fated if well-intentioned venture. I remember standing by her piano in her dark and overwhelming living room, trying to make the notes on the score come out of my mouth.

I failed. Over and over again, I failed. Strangely, I don't remember being embarrassed, just relieved when the hour was over.

Today, driving my usual path through town, I noticed myself singing a tune from the first song book. Out loud, with gusto, "Oh really, O'Riley, You are a fine policeman," came out of my mouth. I felt G'ma and Bubba (who thought I was really talented, lurking in the kitchen to listen because I could not play with them in the room) in the car by my side, nodding appreciatively.

I was 8 with an 8 year old's issues.

I wasn't there very long, but the memory is still hanging around. Maybe Bubba was craftier than I ever gave her credit for.


  1. Well, I can sing, but I can't play. My parents hoped and paid for piano lessons for several years, and we were poor, but I just couldn't get my fingers to fly over the keys, any more than I could master typing in high school. I was relieved when the lessons stopped. I remember thinking, when my teacher would play a piece, "Oh, is that what it is supposed to sound like?!" Mine never did sound like that.

    1. I know! I know! Why couldn't my fingers make those same noises?????


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