As I walked through the quiet house this morning after Ken left for work, trying to decide what I wanted to do today, I had a sudden urge to open the piano and begin playing again. Many of you may not know that I took piano lessons for many years as a child and got to the point where I wasn’t too bad. But getting to that point…
When I was about 5, a lady who lived up the street from us talked my parents into letting my older sister take piano lessons from her. Of course, not wanting to be left out, I somehow convinced them to let me take piano lessons too…something I quickly came to regret.
This neighbor lady was quite old, or so she seemed at the time. In realty, she was probably younger than I am now, but she looked really old. She made us call her Auntie Brenda. I hated that. I was pretty shy and had no desire to refer to her as Auntie Brenda. So I just didn’t call her anything. In fact, I don’t think I talked much to her at all. 🙂 I remember little about those lessons, but I do remember this. She was MEAN, or so it seemed from my 5 year old perspective. She used to slap my hands whenever I didn’t hold my wrists up, which was most of the time. I’m pretty sure she didn’t slap my sister’s hands because she was always better at impressing the adult population than I was, but she slapped mine. And, the other thing I remember… she made us wash her dirty dishes before we walked back home. She made us participate in recitals too, and, never one to appreciate being the center of attention, that was definitely not to my liking. This went on for a couple of years, before she quit teaching, and I was never so relieved in all my life. I disengaged myself from the piano at that point and thought that was the end of my piano experience.
However, for some reason, when I was in junior high, I decided I wanted to give it another try. I started taking lessons again from a college student and really enjoyed it. No slapping, no recitals, no pressure. We had a great time. But she graduated, leaving me without a piano teacher. I wanted to keep taking lessons, so moved on to another instructor. I really don’t remember much about her at all. I know she wasn’t mean, but she wasn’t fun either. I decided to try a different avenue and signed up for lessons at Morningside College. Probably not the best idea because this lady was very serious about her music. Much more so than I. She was good, and reasonably even-tempered. But she saw something in me that I didn’t particularly see and didn’t believe that it was a road I really wanted to travel. She thought that I was pretty good and possessed the talent to be even better. She convinced me to come not only once a week for lessons but a second time as well for music theory training. Not my thing. Sorry. That was torture. And recitals… those darn recitals. I will never forget the time when I was to play Khachaturian’s Saber Dance. I knew that song like the back of my hand and could play it fast and furious. We even have an old home movie of me playing it and dancing at the same time. But that afternoon in the recital hall in the old Music Conservatory, I got halfway through and drew a blank. I started over several times but just couldn’t get through it. Mortified, I gave up and went back and sat down. That was the end of piano lessons for me.
I still enjoyed playing from time to time, but only for myself. And, in recent years I haven’t even done that. The piano has been basically eye candy for the sun room. This morning, however, in the quiet of the house, I sat down and played for nearly an hour. I wish I could say it all came flooding back, but truth is, I’m pretty rusty. That’s OK, though. I believe that if I choose to work at it, much of it will come back to me. And quite frankly, as long as I use the simplified version of the music, I can at least recognize what the songs are supposed to be.
So, I believe that there are days ahead of me when I will take the time to just enjoy playing again. It is relaxing, and a good way to challenge the mind. So, the piano makes my short list. Now, time to sit down and attempt to figure out where I ever got the idea that I might be able to write a book.