I’ve just downsized. My living space is now 25% of what it was two weeks ago. I’m down to the basics. Except for the piano.
It’s a Baldwin spinet, an Acrosonic. Certainly not fancy, but a good piano. The belly opens up to enlarge the sound. Over the past few years, I’ve rarely played it. Still, somehow it remains a comfort.
It would have been logical to get rid of the piano along with the dining room table, but something stopped me. I could tell from the way it regarded me that our relationship was not right.
“Why do you want to spend hundreds of dollars to move a piano you never play?” a friend asked. I could only say we had unfinished business, the piano and I.
When I was a child, I took lessons from Mrs. Siebert. She sat beside me, carefully dressed, every hair in place, and patiently guided me through pieces I hadn’t practiced, leaning forward to encourage my fingers to hit the right notes. Once a year we had recitals at the local Baldwin store. Very painful. My knees shook as I walked up the steps to the stage and sat down in the spotlight — a test of what? Certainly not my talent, for I had none. My ability to stick with a task I didn’t enjoy? I remember looking out over the dark audience, relieved that I’d survived without inflicting major damage on my family’s reputation. I came across the recital pins when I was packing to move. I hesitated for a moment, then threw them all in the trash.
The revelation came when I invited local musician Patches King over to test out the Acrosonic. She sat down to play and out came glorious, celebratory riffs of sound. It was the sound of pure joy. That was the business I needed to finish: to learn to enjoy making music.
Nothing good comes easy. I hid my eyes when the two young movers heaved the piano up the stairs (of course there is no elevator). It blocks the air conditioner, and I’ll have to put it on sliders to change the filter (a must-do during the Texas summer). But I’m playing and looking for a good piano tuner. Discipline is a prerequisite to mastering any skill, and I’m making myself sit down and play. Hopefully it will become a habit. Patches encouraged me to take lessons, and I may take her up on it. In the end, we need all the joy we can get.