Ode to a (Lonely) Piano

The family piano from my childhood.

After years of lessons, I can’t really say that I know how to play piano. I’m not quite sure what happened making those connections between the notes and my hands.

My mom was big on self-improvement and decided taking piano lessons was a good cause in that direction. She and my dad purchased this used spinet piano in the late 1950’s and found a place for it in our living room in Quincy.

A piano teacher was employed, Mrs. Jenkins, who lived up the street. I dutifully walked up there every week and sat next to her on the bench as she opened a John Schaum beginner book with such hope. Mr. Jenkins was always watching TV preachers.

I think my mom paid something like $20-25 a month for the lessons. I felt somewhat bad not really getting the concept even though I practiced at home, usually under some duress. Soon, my brother was walking up the street to Mrs. Jenkins too.

By the time I got to high school, I quit going to Mrs. Jenkins and now took lessons at school. While Mrs. Jenkins didn’t do recitals, Sister Arthurn, my new teacher, did. “Ebb Tide” was a popular piece at the time, and I chose that for my recital. Somehow, I memorized it and pulled it off. My mom was so proud! She talked about it for years.

I officially ended my piano career sometime in high school and had no regrets, even though I still did wish I could actually play. I would say hi to the piano when I was visiting Quincy but no lost love.

On a random day in May of 1986, when I was very pregnant with our fourth child and not thinking at all about pianos, my mom called. Surprise!

“The piano is on it’s way to you.” She announced rather than asked. She decided she wanted the space back in the living room and hired two guys from Quincy to drive it the 300 miles to me in the back of their pick-up truck. (Not at all close to piano movers.) “You took lessons the longest so it belongs to you.” Really?

So we found space in our living room and there it sat. The kids enjoyed banging on it and every so often someone would visit and actually play it.

Three years later, I set my oldest on the same path, piano lessons from a local teacher. He seemed to feel about it the same way I had. I can’t remember how long those lasted but kids # 2 and 3 also took part in the grand tradition of learning to play the same piano.

Our youngest asked if she could skip piano and try something else and I readily agreed. The lid stayed closed unless someone came over to play and then it really rocked!

Meanwhile, the piano became an excellent place to display the photos of the month. I rotate the pictures based on the birthdays of that month and significant events that have taken place. Halloween and Christmas decorations look nice up there too.

Enter the grandchildren! The young ones always open it and pound away. The older ones have their own piano at home and really do know how to play. It’s fun to watch them go at it and try out the pedals but I’m really done now.

Like my mom, I now want the space back and am ready to pass on the piano. It is horribly out of tune and two keys stick. I tried to donate it to a foundation, but no one got back to me. I then offered it as fr*e to all the sites and so far, no one has shown any interest. We can’t bear to just throw it out. 

As I write this, I’m listening to piano music. Kind of ironic, but it is one of my favorite genres.

I’ve discovered my hands are better at words than notes but someone can bring this piano back to the life it was built for.

Hoping it brings as many stories to the next owners as this one has for us.

Would you like a piano?

Hope for the best,

Tish

PS I still have a few pages from my John Schaum beginner’s Christmas album 🙂

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