Saturday, March 13, 2010
Piano on the way!
As you know, I spent my youth either riding a horse, taking ice skating lessons, or practicing my piano at home. I had a baby grand which sat in one corner of our living room. My godmother, who lived next door, was a professional pianist herself and I walked through the roses between our two yards to my weekly lessons. Aunt Margaret was a kind, patient, and yet strict teacher. She wasn't related to us, but she and her husband were my godparents. I spent my early piano years as one of her students until she retired and moved away. She sent all of her students to a fellow instructor, but I didn't like this woman. She let me get away with sloppy playing and wasn't strict. She was a waste of time and money. So, my mother found another piano teacher. This one was as mean and as strict as they came. I used to cry before going to my lessons!!! YES! (This was back when I was in middle school.) I used to get stomach aches before going to her house for a weekly lesson. She so eroded my confidence that I believe that's what led to my legs shaking during performances. But, finally, in high school, I went to Occidental College, near Los Angeles, and took private lessons with a professor there. He gave me back my confidence and built up my playing to the point that I went to college as a piano performance major. UNFORTUNATELY, so did every other girl in my dorm! Oye vei! Much to my parents' disappointment, I quietly changed my major to political science and dropped out of the music program. I mean, there was an entirely NEW world for me...political science and I was hooked. I returned from my first year of college and announced to my parents, "We HAVE to go to Washington D.C. since I am now a political science major! I HAVE to go see it!" So, my dad arranged for us to visit his niece, who was living in Philadelphia. We got to see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Then, we drove down to D.C. It was LOVE at first sight! We visited Ford's Theater and then the house where Lincoln died. I remember my first visit to the Lincoln Memorial and how tiny I felt standing next to the his monument. We visited Civil War battlefields. We drove through Viriginia. The next fall, at college, I met my husband, who was also a poly sci major and we married the following June. Then, we drove back to Pennsylvania (to see his family there), and of course, he had never been to D.C., so we drove there so that he could experience it. And, we've visited D.C. one time a few years ago and were able to visit The Vietnam Memorial Wall. But, I digress! Throughout our early years of marriage, I rented a small upright piano and gave piano lessons (my "mad" money!) Since I was a full-time student, this gave me the opportunity to keep my fingers in good shape and my memory, too! And, I got enough money to pay for the piano rental and have some of my own spending money, since I didn't work. (I had 2 more undergraduate years of college and my graduate work to do when we first married.) I didn't have a piano, alas, upon graduating from grad school and we moved down here to the desert. It was my first time without a piano since I was six years old (I was now 22)...and, as newly-married young people, we just couldn't afford for me to rent one. So, I boxed up my piano music and put it out in the garage. We moved from our first home in the desert (a rental) to our current home, which we have now lived in for 34 years, and about 17 years ago, hubby worked for a man who wanted to get rid of his little upright piano, so it came to live with us. Imagine my surprise when I first sat down and ran my fingers over its keys! It's called muscle memory! My fingers, on their own, began playing old, familiar pieces! Our daughter took piano lessons while in high school once she decided to be a music major, so it got quite a few workouts between Jennifer and me. I used to sit down on Friday evenings and play through my piano music. It relaxed me. That little piano sat in the corner, behind our door, in a little alcove, until hubby bought a sleek, black dresser a few years ago and put (GASP!) my piano out in the GARAGE! ACK! I honestly don't know WHAT I was thinking! A wooden piano out in the garage in the heat and dust in the DESERT! (Just SHOOT ME NOW!) Of course, it hasn't come back from the garage (I looked at it during Christmas vacation and it is pretty much dead wood!!!) So, I've been without a piano now for about 10 years. In the meantime, my aunt and uncle, who currently live in Rancho Bernardo, in San Diego, decided to relocate here to the desert. They are the ones who frequently meet me at the ranch and stop and take photos of the horses. Apparently they are getting rid of their old furnishings, including the piano, and buying new ones. I'm not sure if that means they are getting a new piano. My aunt has her own little upright piano and she CERTAINLY isn't going to give it to us (in case IT ends up out in the garage), but Jennifer told me last night that Aunt Claire is shipping it to her house! Which means, I'll have access to a piano that I can practice on! YEAH! So, it will sit in Jennifer's music room and I can stop by after school and practice and get my fingers going again! I'm SOOOOooooooooo excited! Linda, are you reading this? You know what it means to me. I'm going out to the garage this weekend and unpack my music. My Czerny, Liszt, Chopin, Debussy, and Beethoven are all coming out of retirement! YEAH! They have slept too long out there in the dust and the heat. (Don't worry...my music is all safely packed away in a dust-proof box!) So, by the end of the month, and after Jennifer's wedding, I'll be practicing piano again! I've NEVER been able to have long fingernails and one reason is that, when they get beyond my "piano length", I have always either cut them or ...yes...GASP...chewed them off! I've NEVER had long, gorgeous nails. I do have long fingers, however, and large hands, and I'm anxious to see how these old hands do on a piano. I do know that I've always been an excellent typist and I'm always doodling and keeping my hands busy, even in the classroom. I've taken various surveys and I've always come out a visual/KINESTHETIC learner. That means, like most of us, I take in information visually, but also kinesthetically. If I want to remember a phone number, I type it out on the table. If I want to remember an address, I "type it" on my car steering wheel. My hands ALWAYS have to be busy, so I'll soon be giving them workouts on the piano. I am fortunate that, while I do have some arthritis, it doesn't seem to affect my hands and I don't have any finger pain. So, I'll be posting some updates about the piano and how I'm doing with it! And, on a different note, since we are having a GORGEOUS, sunny, warm weekend, I'm heading up to the horses this morning for some major brushing and I want to saddle Quad. It is nice to FINALLY have a weekend with some decent, non-raining weather! I'll stop and take pics of the wildflowers, which are just starting to bloom, along the way!