Saturday, September 10, 2011
Peggy and Her Piano
Peggy and Her Piano
For as long as I can remember, I have played the piano. Music was always part of my home. My dad played records that contained beautiful music all the time. I believe my talent comes through my dad. My poor mom had no rhythm and couldn't really sing very well at all. But that didn't matter - she sang anyway.
Dad could always keep time very well. His dream was to have been a conductor in a symphony - but that wasn't to be. Perhaps if he'd had musical training, he would have enjoyed it even more.
My sisters were/are all musical. But, when they were growing up in the hills of Kentucky and the hollers of West Virginia, mom and dad just didn't have the money for any musical lessons for them. None of them can play any musical instrument at all. But when the four of us sing, we blend perfectly in several harmonies.
My parents got me a little piano for Christmas when I was four years old. That year, I was pounding out "Joy to the World". My mom often said that was the only Christmas music we had that year. Through the years, I learned how to play a few more songs on that little piano. I still have it to this day.
I put Mr. Eddie in the picture with it so you could see the relative size of it. Mr. Eddie weighs 8 lbs. It's not much bigger than him.
I even played for the children's organization at church for several years right after I got that piano. We had our Primary meetings on Saturday mornings, when it was hard to get some of the other adults out to the church. For awhile, all I could really play was "The Golden Plates" - so that's what we sang for a long time.
My dad was a refrigeration/air conditioning repairman, a skill he learned in the Navy and continued on with more training here. One day, he was repairing an appliance for a woman who taught piano lessons in her basement. He listened for awhile, and asked if she took on new students. She said she did.
About that same time, a lady in our ward was selling her piano. She was getting a new one from her mother, who lived in California. They lived in Danville, a town a few miles away from here.
On the night of my birthday in 1963, I heard a vehicle pull into our driveway. I didn't think too much about it, for I thought it was probably one of my sisters dropping by. Or, since dad was bishop, that it might be someone who needed to talk to him. He did stand at the door and talk to someone for a few minutes.
Then, some furniture was moved, and in rolled my birthday present! My best birthday present I've ever received! My "new" piano!!!! At 8 years old, I thought I was the richest girl on the planet.
I played and played and played. And in the fall, I began my lessons. That was a different experience, for I had played by ear for many years. Now, I was going to have to learn to discipline myself to play the notes written on the paper. It was harder than you can imagine.
My piano lessons began at $1 per week. Mom and dad always found that dollar for me. However, after a few years, my teacher had to raise it to $1.25. That was a different story. We didn't know if I could continue or not. But, dad was determined to provide lessons for me. There were a few weeks (probably more than a few) where I paid in coins, after digging through couch cushions, coat pockets, etc. But, we always found it. And, we always found it again when the cost went to $1.50.
I tried to make sure I kept up with my practicing, for I knew how hard it was on mom and dad to pay for those lessons.
That piano "base" led me on to play many more instruments. When I was in marching band, I found it easy to pick up an instrument and begin to play. String instruments were a bit harder for me, but eventually I could play many of them, too. In my mind, I would picture the piano keyboard, then the notes would be clearer to me on another instrument.
How can I ever show my gratitude for mom and dad's sacrifice? By keeping up what they took the time, money and effort to see that I had in my young life. That sacrifice has led me to play for countless weddings, funerals, Christmas gatherings, family gatherings, and years and years of Church meetings.
It also paved the way for each of my own children to enjoy music. While they were at home, they filled our home with music - good music. They had their lessons on my old piano, and the sacrifice was hard for us, too. But, how I loved hearing them play and work out the melody on a song they had never seen before. How I loved seeing them go on to play other instruments. And how I LOVED when we gathered around the piano and sang as a family. Our six voices blended and harmonized, just like with me and my sisters.
My piano is still in my home and is still being used. It's a little rougher for the wear. It has some battle scars. It's a bit out of tune. But oh, how I love that piano - for the joy I had in playing and accomplishing a difficult piece - and for the comfort it brought me in times of sadness.