Thursday, April 20, 2006

Striking a Chord

While looking for those lost taxes mentioned in the last post, I came across something that triggered many memories. In an old suitcase in the garage, I found old sheet music, music books, and stray papers that were parts of music lessons. I found one in particular dated 1974.

It was like meeting a stranger, seeing my own handwriting in a nine-year old child's scrawl, written in colored markers--each letter a different color. It brought back memories of Ms. Choate sitting by my side as I practiced scales and hymns. She always knew when I hadn't practiced. I spent hours playing the piano at home, but rarely played the classical pieces we went over in class. But Ms. Choate was patient and kind. And she taught me well. I have the joy of being able to play today because of her--and the sacrifice my dear mother made each week to make sure I got those lessons.

I still have the Christmas ornament she made for me decorated with sequins and beads and my second grade picture on it. I still have the stamps she gave us from different countries--somewhere. (oh, no, I'll have to go looking for them. See post below.) I still have some of the little colored glass bottles and busts of composers she gave us as rewards. I still have the gift of music she labored to impart. I wish I had paid more attention to her instruction. I wish I had practiced those pieces more. I love classical music today. It would thrill me to be able to play more of those pieces.

I looked at the books and sheet music. I remember her giving us a list of what music we should buy. I remember my grandfather taking the list to Wallick Music in Jackson, TN. and purchasing the books for us. What a wonderful part he played in this. I had forgotten.

I immediately sat down at my Yamaha keyboard and played a line or two from one of the old books. It didn't sound the same. Our piano is at the old homeplace where my sister lives. I do not have room for such a large upright. Still, some day when things are better I am going to get a small console one. Electronic keyboards lose so much of the stirring vibrations you get from wooden hammers hitting actual strings.

Our old piano at mom's house has been tuned exactly twice in 35 years--once, when it was brought to our home,(My grandfather bought and gave us the piano.) and again, sometime in my teens. Daddy got it tuned for me at my insistence. Most of the time money was so short that we didn't have that luxury. I said all that to say this: even though the old piano was out of tune, even though a couple of keys no longer played, even though the ivory has come off several of the keys, the music that came out of it was some of the best music I ever played. I drove my family crazy playing in that small house. And I still say, a real piano, even old and out of tune, plays a thousand times better music than these electronic gizmos they try to pass off as instruments. Call me old fashioned. Call me crazy. I still love the subtle nuances found in a real piano.

For many years I used my talent for the Lord. I began playing for church services at the age of 12. I have played for weddings and funerals. Funerals are the hardest, especially if you were close to the deceased. I occasionally get to play at my home church when we go home for a visit. I miss that alot. I may not be a concert pianist. I may not be able to play Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. Postludes and preludes aren't my specialty. But I do know that when the Spirit of God comes upon me I can play whatever He desires of me. And it gives me great pleasure to worship Him in this manner.

Recently I went to an interview for a church pianist for a church down at the lake. I didn't get the job. I had to laugh when I came home and told my husband. "I can't even get a job doing something I've done for 30 years. This has to be God working a different plan." And indeed He is. Other gifts are coming to the forefront. I am learning that there are seasons for gifts, much like birthdays, Christmas, and anniversaries. Different gifts for different seasons.

All that grumbling about the lost taxes...and look what treasures I uncovered!


Bertha Laird said...

Thanks for sharing the interesting story about your old piano.
I like your writing. May God continue to bless and use you.


March St. Ives said...

We must have grown up in the same era. I, too, took piano lessons and loved to play and practice. However, I wasn't really wild about my piano teacher who was strict, very strict. She refused to teach me how to play hymns -- only classical music. I knew there was a trick to playing hymns because my cousin played them all the time in our Sunday school class. Her teacher also taught her how to accompany while playing. I begged Mother to let me have another piano teacher, to no avail.

I'm with you on the sound of a real piano. The church across the road from our house has an old upright. The tinny oldfashioned hymns that pour out of the open windows make me feel right at home:

There's a church in the valley by the wildwood. No lovelier spot in the dale
No place is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church (only this one is white) in the vale.

Camy Tang said...

Great story! I love those unexpected treasures.


Viamarie said...

Beautiful post. Thanks for dropping by my blog.

Enjoy your weekend!

C. H. Green said...

Welcome new readers. Thanks for your comments and come back!