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Heart and Soul

When I was about eight there was a very simple test that girls used to decide who was cool or not.   At that time, it had nothing to do with clothes or boys or brands.   That would come later.   At eight, it all hinged on whether you could play Heart and Soul on the piano or not.   I fell in the later category. Eight year olds with a little talent are dangerous.

A friend did have a player piano which was a ton of fun.   It took about four of us to have enough weight to manage the pedals but if we got the timing right we could pump hard enough to coax the songs from “Annie” out of it and sing along at the top of our lungs.  I’m sure her parents were thrilled.

When I turned sixteen, my aunt’s piano came to live with us.   Piano’s are like that. You can’t get rid of them unless you have a home willing to adopt. Kinda like puppies.

My mom and I came up with a deal.   She’d pay for lessons I if she didn’t have to bug me to practice.  I loved it.  I took lessons for about a year and a half before my piano teacher decided I had to join in the Spring Recital.   I was not remotely interested in playing in a recital.  Mostly because most of her students were eight year olds who’d been playing longer than me.    Memories of Heart and Soul were haunting.   But this particular music teacher, while talented and kind, was also old school and all of her students were going to play in the Spring Recital.

We chose Cannon in D by Pachelbel. I practiced.  A lot.  I memorized the whole thing.   I practiced more.   I’m sure my parents were thrilled.  They must have been because they invited all my relatives to attend.    Particularly excited was my grandmother.  

Her mother loved the piano.  When my Great Grandmother was getting married, she told her fiance’ she didn’t want a ring.  She wanted a piano.   He gave her one but she never had the opportunity to learn how to play it.

My Grandma learned just enough piano to pound herself through a hymnal and support my grandfather at church.   So now it was my turn.

I’ll make a long and painful story short.   I stunk.   I froze.  I forgot.  I played all the wrong notes.    Worst part of the whole thing is when I finished, the audience was silent.  It was that bad.   Then, my tone-deaf Grandfather leaped to his feet and gave me a standing ovation.   This did not help.  I promptly quit playing the piano.

Late in my grandmother’s life, the wedding piano came to live with her.   It had been sitting in a garage for a long time and was basically destroyed.  Grandma paid to have it rehabed and decided since I was the only one in the family with any history of playing the piano that it belonged with me.     I love this piano.   It sits in our house with a photo of its first owner on top.

When we moved, we hired a piano mover to haul it to the new house.   This was perhaps the best decision of our entire married life.

If you need to move a piano, call Big Als’.    This is the ad that convinced me they could move my Great Grandmother’s Piano.

YES! We are the moving company founded by the big Samoan guy …Big Al, he really is BIG! He stands 6 foot 6 inches tall and weighs 325 lbs (of muscle).

Because they could not get a truck down our old driveway, three very strong large men pushed it by hand up the hill that was our old driveway.   When they arrived at this house, they had to navigate a muddy backyard and take the sliding glass doors off the tracks to get it in our house.    The lead mover asked us to call him if we ever move again.   He said he’d take that day off.

When our daughter was born, we put her on the waiting list for the best piano teacher we know.  After I hassled this woman for two solid years she agreed to start piano lessons at two.   My four-year old now has taken lessons longer than I did.   She can’t yet play the Canon in D but she’s got a very solid base of music and nice dexterity for little fingers.

While she practices Ode to Joy, I practice patience.   I want to rush in and show her how.   I catch myself having entirely too high of expectations for a four-year old.    I remind myself it’s about learning to love music and not a contest.    Sometimes I miss the right tone.   I need more practice.

She’s had three piano recitals so far.  The first one, I was a wreck.  I had to remind myself to breathe.    My mom says that having a child is like agreeing to have your heart walk around outside your body for the rest of your life.   She’s right of course.    It’s all really about heart and soul.






Filed under Family


Nope, no one got one. Just checking to see if you are paying attention. We did have one little girl who was writing her name on arms today. What she didn’t know is her name is tattooed on our hearts.

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