Stress! Even young children are not immune.
Recently, I read a story by a man who grew up in a family where all the kids had to put in their time taking piano lessons on their pride and joy…a big beautiful baby grand piano. His story brought back memories.
At a very young age, I too had to take piano lessons…against my will! In my immature mind I thought it was child abuse, but nobody had given it a name at that time.
Somehow my mother got the idea that I should become a famous piano player. I don’t know if this revelation came to her before or after she found the piano. No, we didn’t have a big beautiful baby grand piano, but my mother did admire our neighbor’s big beautiful baby grand piano. Ms. Denny could really play that thing. Her fingers would glide across those keys like magic.
We would never have been able to afford a piano. We were probably listed as poor, but we didn’t feel poor until we didn’t have enough money to buy something that wasn’t a necessity. Because of fishing poles, vegetable gardens, fruit trees, and somebody’s chickens, we never went hungry. Even though we got a new outfit only a few times a year, we had plenty of clothes because my mother could have written a book on shopping at thrift stores. Lots of things in our home had been new in someone else’s home. How lucky we were to live across the street from Bosco’s junk yard. The whole neighborhood had a good time roaming around that place and admiring the treasures we found. My mother was always on the lookout for a great bargain…or a freebie.
One day she came home from work all excited about a piano she found. It was sitting at the curb in front of a house in the rich part of town. My father called a few of his friends and off they went in his pickup truck to retrieve that piano before a junk man could get it.
Her prize “find” was a player piano, along with a box of useless piano rolls. It took up much too much space in our tiny living room. Mom did scrounge up enough money to have it tuned and several keys were fixed. It would serve the purpose–piano lessons for me. Stress!
Saturday mornings, there I was, sitting at Ms. Denny’s big beautiful baby grand piano. I loved that piano but hated the lessons. I was not one bit interested in lessons and after a few weeks, Ms. Denny told my mother that I wasn’t paying attention and that all I wanted to do was show off and flick my braids. I told myself that Ms. Denny was just jealous because she didn’t have long braids to flick. My mother told me that if I didn’t “straighten up and fly right” she would beat my butt for wasting her hard-earned money. Since my mother didn’t make idle threats, I soon learned to play the piano. Stress!
She was so excited about her budding pee-anist, she told everybody. Whenever our church, or anybody’s church, had any kind of special Sunday afternoon celebration, she made sure I was part of the entertainment on the program. I would get almost physically sick to my stomach just thinking about having to play. I was terrified of making mistakes and hitting the wrong notes. Stress!
This went on for probably about a year and I hated it. One very hot summer day, a little old church out in the sticks, was celebrating something and had booked too many people on the program. There was no air conditioning in churches back then and I was the last one on the program. When my name was called, I trembled in fear as usual as I walked down the aisle and sat on that rickety old piano stool, at that dusty old dilapidated piano and started playing my two-page piece of music. Stress!
It was no surprise to anyone that the poor old piano had been neglected for a long time. It looked like it should be sitting at the curb waiting for the junk man. Not only was it out of tune but some of the keys would stick and some didn’t play at all. I thought about giving up and returning to my seat, but for some reason I relaxed, sat up straight, and let my fingers glide across those keys like Ms. Denny as I pretended I was playing at Carnegie Hall. It didn’t matter that I played the wrong notes because nobody knew if it was me or the broken down piano at fault. The congregation clapped with delight when I finished because now they could say the benediction and go home. My mother was probably mortified, but she never said a word about that performance, and she never ever booked another gig. Hallelujah!
Several decades later I happily took piano lessons again and love playing now. It just may ward off Alzheimer’s disease plus, it’s a wonderful way to relax and relieve stress. One day I may be able to afford a big beautiful baby grand piano.
To see and hear a player piano click on link below:
Eula Barnes said:
I really enjoyed the artical, I took piano in the seventh grade but times were hard back then and my father could not afford $13,00 a month so I had to quit and finally lost interest, I wish I had continued years later when I could afford it. The self playing piano reminded me of the movie “Cotton Comes to Harlem. I really enjoyed it,
Eula, it’s never too late. So glad you enjoyed the post and the player piano video. Hope they brought a smile to your spirit. I really appreciate your comment.
Kiji High said:
There are hundreds of stories like yours. I recall a friend of mine who was a concert pianist by the age of 15. She too disliked playing the piano so much that she quit at the age of 16…never to return to the keys again. She realized that she was filling in her parents’ gap of unsuccess.
I had wished to play the piano and my mother said no. She saw no purpose in it. Maybe because she felt that she had wasted time and money with my sister. My mistake is that I never pursued my dream later in my life. I love the piano but for some reason I am blocked from playing it. Huh! maybe this is the time to explore, remove the blockage and play! Yes, I hear a melody.
Thank you for your tale and giving me a tip.
Thanks so much for your comment. Hope you discover the blockage and will soon enjoy the peace and fulfillment from playing the piano. I’m pulling for you. Good luck.
J T Weaver said:
Delightful. Great story.
Thank you for your comment. I really appreciate it.