Thursday, April 2, 2009

Nocturne Me



When I was a child my mother made me take piano lessons. We drifted from teacher to teacher until we found one that intimidated me enough to inspire me. I went to lessons each week with sweaty palms and a rapid heartbeat.

My teacher was especially fond of giving me plenty of sheets to practice at home. I took lessons seriously and wanted to come back the next week playing to impress. But that was the problem, practicing at home.

My parents bought a black Yamaha grand for their piano prodigy son Christopher. He took lessons from David Glen Hatch and became a concert pianist. I just wanted to play Fur Elise without messing up. But no matter how much I tried to practice, my skills never improved. With a family used to hearing notes from Rachmaninoff float out of our piano my music was deplorable to the ears.

Even the dog would howl.

And I could hear my mother in the kitchen yelling,

"WRONG NOTE!"

or

"TRY THAT LINE AGAIN!"

or

"LIFT THE PEDAL!"

Which behavior aggravated my willing heart.

Then there were my siblings who constantly complained that I was playing too loud,

"DO YOU HAVE TO PLAY SO LOUD?"

or

"I CAN'T DO MY HOMEWORK WITH HER PLAYING LIKE THAT!"

or

"PLEASE . . . JUST . . . STOP!"

Finally when I was ten I succumbed, and asked to stop piano lessons. My mother acted like she was supposed to,

"This is really disappointing."

But in her head she was really thinking,

"Hallelujah!"

So I stopped going to weekly dates with my red-headed teacher and her succinct metronome, but I never stopped playing. Whenever I found myself all alone in the house I would pretend like I was at some wooded concert hall playing for distinguished guests. My family and friends would cry and ask each other over peals of applause,

"WHEN DID SHE GET SO GOOD?"

Shoulders shrugging, heads turning side to side.

Then time went quickly by and I aged and moved out. I lost some of my playing abilities. One day at Sunday dinner at my parent's house I played my modest tunes for Chup. After I ended with a soft tickle in the high range he told me that someday he'd buy me a piano.

Seven years passed until this birthday when a piano was delivered to our doorstep. It is an older Baldwin model that had been used in a church building for the last twenty years. It sounds like my teacher's piano of my youth. That is to say, I love it very much.

But the best part is that when the piano delivery guy rolled it into my living room he admonished me,

"Play it hard for the next two months. I mean, really hard. Then get it tuned."

"I think I can manage that." I responded.