Friday, October 25, 2013

History: Music

I don't remember not taking piano lessons - though it was the case at some point in my babydom.

Me. Babydom. "Playing" the piano.
But I do remember my mom teaching me lessons, and hating it.

I also remember taking lessons with Sarah & Katy from some guy who lived over by Vittles which is now Arctic Circle in Pleasant Grove. But Vittles was famous for its grasshopper shake, which my sisters had me convinced contained real grasshoppers. His piano (and lessons) were in his basement and his house and all my memories of there make me squirm. He must have been a bit creepy to me.

But mostly when I think of piano lessons I think of Karla.

Karla taught lessons out of her home in her non-creepy basement and she. was. awesome.

I didn't realize it then, but it must have been a significant sacrifice for my mom to drive us over to Karla's house WAAAAAY over in Orem (whatever...that's far) then sit and wait through all our lessons before getting us all home. It took a lot of time. And that was just the lessons. The practice must have been torture - none of us were extraordinary pianists. Good - just not extraordinary.

The memories of my mom shouting over the piano noise from the kitchen "flaaat!" or "shaarp" will be with me forever.

We'd sit in Karla's basement and while one person was having a lesson, the other would do technical games on the computer or read music history worksheets.

From Karla I learned about playing hymns (something I still struggle with) and reverence for music. I wasn't a very emotionally expressive person but Karla would not give up on me. "moooove your body while you play" she'd say - while exaggerating her body movement while she played. "Feel the piece. What is it about? Where is the emotion?" I never really got that. Though I like to think that if I played today it would be different.

Karla also arranged for some pretty awesome musical opportunities. I got to compete in stuff, do the regular recitals, group lessons, collect trophies and even record a song in a real live recording studio.

At one recital when I was 12 years old, I was playing a piece which was fast. Fingers flying all over the keyboard which was the only way I felt even a little accomplished as a pianist. Speed. Speed and memorization.

I practiced that song until I could play it in my sleep and my fingers KNEW it even if my brain didn't. In fact, it's still my go to song if I sit down without music.

Recital day came and I was nervous (as always) but dressed to the 9's. (Shoulder pads people. I was mature enough to wear shoulder pads.) and when I sat down to the beautiful piano on stage I was intimidated and shaky and terrified. I had the music, but I didn't need it. I played and played and played, and suddenly it was over. Too soon. I thought. The piece is longer than that....I must have played it faster than I ever have. 

And as I stood up to take my bow, I realized I had skipped the entire middle section.

My face immediately turned red and I was mortified. Nothing worse had ever happened to any musician ever. Not ever.

Somehow I survived that day, and took lessons a bit longer. But I quit before I got really good. I decided I wasn't really talented anyway, and I couldn't/didn't want to "waste my time" trying anymore. What a fool I was. But that was only one of the foolish things I did. 

I really love the piano. I love to play and I really love to listen.

Josh loves to play - but he doesn't read music, he just plays out of his head. And it's beautiful. I love to hear him play. I want our kids to play. I want to have accompaniment when we sing primary songs during FHE.

I've been begging for a piano since the day we got married. We've bought a lot of stupid stuff, but a piano wasn't ever on the list.

I've found a few on ksl lately that I'd like to own. But by the time Josh is available to go get it for me, it's gone. Plus he really hates the idea of moving a piano.

So tonight while he was at scout camp I got on ksl just in case my piano was there. And I saw one I kinda liked, and the guy selling it could deliver it. And I had the cash to buy it. So I loaded my pajama clad babies in the car to go look at it at 7:30.

When Kevin answered the door and I realized he was blind I was surprised. But he knew exactly who I was, what I wanted and which piano I was talking about directing me around the 14 others in his living room to the one I came to see. Shouldn't I have been directing him?

So I bought it and asked if he could deliver it. Yes he could.

He asked how late was too late, I stammered when I said "you mean tonight?" and let him know that anytime before 10 was fine with me but that I was no rush.

He called at 8:45.
He came at 9:45.

And that's the story of when I bought a piano from a blind guy (a blind guy who delivers pianos!) while Josh was at scouts.


  1. This is so wonderful!!! I have a full-size electric piano, but it's just not the same. Your description of that song you have memorized had me running my fingers through a couple of my old pieces. I had a mortifying recital experience once, too...but let's not focus on that. Let's focus on your wonderful new piano! Be sure to have it tuned before too long, okay? Do you think you'll try to take lessons again? That's my dream.

    (p.s. - I love that you did this all on your own! You remind me of my great-grandmother -- she saved her pennies and bought an upright piano while her husband was away on a mission. They had young children and money was as tight as could be, but it was important to her to have music in her home. My mother learned on that piano after her mother inherited it and lovingly refinished it. I, in turn, learned on it in my childhood home. My sister now has it, and her girls are taking lessons. It has been well cared for and is still in tune after 100 years. You are starting a legacy!)

  2. Beautiful piano! Congratulations! I wish that I had practiced more when I was younger...

  3. It's so beautiful. :) I'm so glad you finally got your piano!! I'll have to come check it out before I move. :)

  4. Hurray! I am SO happy that you found a beautiful piano. If anyone deserves to have one, it's you. And for the record, I have always that that you play piano SO beautiful! You are very talented! Plus, you played "our" song for us to dance to at our wedding. That was the BEST!! Thanks, Amy! xoxo


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