Monday, August 10, 2015

Memoir Moment: The Piano




Some of my earliest childhood memories revolve around the beautiful 1900's piano that once sat like a grand lady in the corner of our cozy farmhouse living room.

That piano -- now in my own front room -- surely played a key role in our family life, adding a musical lilt, not to mention 'a little culture' to Mom's growing brood.

 Only a year old and I was already taking joy in making 'music'


As a little girl, I loved to sit beside Mom to watch her play in the evenings after the day's work was done. Her fingers would fly across the keys while Dad relaxed in his easy chair listening, eyes sometimes closed. A peaceful, restful calm would settle around us as evening fell. It's a cozy feeling I've never forgotten.

Mom was determined that her kids would get to take piano lessons and I started lessons in Grade 2. My teacher, Miss Norah L. Thompson, a gentle teacher, was a classically trained English woman, who'd come to Canada to live. Taking lessons was exciting for me, and a little nerve-wracking at first. What if I didn't remember what the notes were, but they eventually stuck and I starting going through book after piano book, learning my scales and finding out about famous composers as we studied little pieces based on their works.

 Little Blondie smiling at the thought of one day playing the piano,
 just like her momma

Once I learned to read music, I then loved to tinkle the upper keys when Mom played. Mom had no formal lessons but had a great love for the piano and a natural gift. You see, she could play by heart, something I yearned as a little girl to do. (I used to even dream I could play without notes, but alas I'd wake up to find I still played better reading the notes, although I became a whiz at chopsticks.) 

Although my mom didn't play classical music, she was amazing with the old, beautiful hymns we used to sing in church. I still love to hear her play them to this day. I think it was listening to her, as a little girl, that stirred not only my own love for music and the piano, but maybe a love for God, too. Hearing melodies that stirred my soul then and now, not to mention belting out the faith-stirring words as we played -- what pleasure it gave us!

 
"Prayer is when you talk to God. Meditation is when you're listening.
Playing the piano allows you to do both at the same time."

It wasn't until I was older that I truly valued the gift Mom and Dad gave us -- their love for beautiful music, and the opportunity to take lessons from Miss Thompson. I owe an incalculable debt to my parents and to my teacher.

Mom, thanks for pushing me to practice those early days when I preferred reading over doing scales. For I always loved playing the piano, it was just the practicing that wasn't as fun. As a child, I certainly never clued in to the fact that it was the practicing, the scales, and the theory that would help create a foundation for a joy of playing that has lasted my whole life. I am grateful for them now.

And, so dear beautiful readers, there's my little story. Did any of you take piano lessons as a child?  Do you still play? 

Sending musical thoughts your way today,
Brenda
xox






18 comments:

  1. Hi, Brenda...delightful memory. Neither of my parents played, so they were really adamant about my taking piano lessons. I started piano with an old upright, taking lessons from the music teacher at school, Mr. Zorn. I learned by reading music, so never had the ear to play without it. I went on to take organ in high school and played for my church occasionally. It always made me really nervous. Now I have a baby grand, and I play when I get a chance, but for my own enjoyment only.

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  2. What a lovely photo of that eager baby about to make music!

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  3. Our family was dysfunctional (understatement) but music lessons were the norm in the 50s and I'm thankful that I go to take them and develop a love for music. I have a natural ability, and while my folks didn't approve of me preferring guitar to violin, by age 12 I had enough musical education to carry on by myself. Music, guitar, and folk-singing opened many doors that would have remained closed to this introvert!

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  4. I love to play anything with a keyboard. I can't imagine a world without music.

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  5. Such a beautiful story, Brenda! It's so sweet to see you at the keyboard when you were so young. I can still hear your love of music in your voice. While growing up, I always wished I could learn to play the piano. You are so blessed to have the gift of music.. and the very same piano! ♡

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  6. Brenda! It's good to see a post from you. I've missed visiting.
    I had piano lessons, and regret that I did not keep up with it. I can pick out a few things, but I really need to practice to get where I could play hymns here at home, which would be wonderful.
    You pictures are so cute. And it's great that you still play.

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  7. Hi Brenda...Oh yes, my Mom made me take piano lessons, too. I can read music but I don't play piano anymore. I play guitar and banjo, though. I love the piano. Love listening to it! So glad you enjoy it, too. Susan

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  8. I think you mother was very wise to have you sitting with her as she enjoyed playing for everyone.
    She probably knew that her love for music would transfer to you.
    Many of us didn't have the privileged to receive the gift of music.I tried and tried but it didn't work out.
    Now, I just sit back and enjoy the gift of others.
    Bless you!

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  9. This brought back such good memories, Brenda. mom made all of us take piano lessons and she wouldn't let me quit, even in College, for which I am very grateful too! I wish we would still gather around the piano in the evenings and just listen or sing.

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    1. Haha, I was ready to quit in Grade 12, and my mom said I couldn't. LOL I'm glad she said no. I didn't mind, I just felt tired of practicing and taking lessons. I loved to play and I did for church and weddings. So that was fun.

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  10. A beautiful story, Brenda. I did not take lessons, and am not musically inclined either instrumentally or vocally. I fear I would have failed miserably at the practice required. I much preferred to be outside playing, riding my bike or following my mom around the yard as she worked in the flowers and the garden. Alas, I don't garden much either, but still enjoy the outdoors.

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  11. Ah such a lovely post full of sweet pictures and memories. Yes I play the piano and for many years every Sunday at church. Alas the piano and organ have given way for the more sophisticated keyboard and guitar. Miss playing in church but still enjoy it at home. Hugs!

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  12. What a sweet post, Brenda. Yes, I took piano lessons up to Grade 8 in the Royal Conservatory. I quit then, and regret it now. But I played for church, for music groups (at Briercrest - I think you did, too), in Ecuador, and I taught piano at the international school. There's still a piano in my living room, but I find that I rarely play now. I wonder why? When the little ones come over they like to play on the keys, and the four-year-old has picked up Hot Cross Buns just from me playing it with her.
    Love the photos of you and the piano. Sweet memories, for certain!

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  13. This brings back memories. My grandmother played beautifully and my mother still does. I learned as a child played for a while, but sadly without any of their flair :-) I do agree that the greater gift is the love of music, even if you 'only' listen.
    Amalia
    xo

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  14. Hi Brenda, this post brings back memories of playing the piano when I was young. My parents sent my two older sisters to piano lessons (which they hated), but I was not sent, and I think of the three of us I was the one that really wanted to learn! I taught myself and learned to read the music books of my sisters. A fond memory is of playing the piano in the living room which had a door opening outside. Our horse used to sneak up to the house and stand in the shade listening to me play :)
    Wendy

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  15. In our home it was my dad who played from his heart. He couldn't read music, but he played all the swing and big band boogie-woo give tunes. My sister and I would tie mom's aprons around our waists and dance. We loved making the aprons twirl. I took lessons for 3 years as a kid but it was a struggle to practice. And, I always ended up playing by ear and not reading the music. My son is a musician and worship leader today. So thankful for the music legacy in our family. Not sure what to do with the piano we loved so much when some day I have to clear dad's house. Sigh.
    Joy!
    Kathy

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  16. In our home it was my dad who played from his heart. He couldn't read music, but he played all the swing and big band boogie-woo give tunes. My sister and I would tie mom's aprons around our waists and dance. We loved making the aprons twirl. I took lessons for 3 years as a kid but it was a struggle to practice. And, I always ended up playing by ear and not reading the music. My son is a musician and worship leader today. So thankful for the music legacy in our family. Not sure what to do with the piano we loved so much when some day I have to clear dad's house. Sigh.
    Joy!
    Kathy

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  17. Beautiful memories... I won my first piano @ age 2 for saying a memory verse every Sunday! On it I learned to play the simple childhood tunes by ear. I never lost my desire to play. Mam found an old upright in a friend's garage for $25... this about 1963. She paid it out with her babysitting & ironing money. Then as she could buy the supplies we stripped it & refinished it. It was black but underneath the most beautiful wood. The final step was having the ivory replaced. She paid for me to have 6 months of lessons before the teacher left. I learned the basics, then went on to teach myself theory. I still can't follow the notes once I've learned the tune! That piano had the most awesome tone & ring I've heard anywhere. To this day I'm still looking for one I would love to play as I did my old upright. Thanks for sharing your story & helping me recall bittersweet memories of my own!!

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To My Beautiful Readers,

Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. ~ Franz Peter Schubert

Thank you so much for leaving your 'footprint' here in my comment box. I do appreciate you taking a moment to share your thoughts today.

Brenda xox

PS. I do not always comment here, but I do look forward to coming and visiting you....