Monday, October 11, 2010

Lessons At The Keyboard

She played the piano like a ragtime pro, hands dancing back and forth across the octaves adding rhythm to a well-loved hymn. Her piano was well-loved and Mom's dearest possession. Anyone who walked through the door into our house had probably at one time or another stood next to the piano singing along with Mom.

We didn't have much but we did have a piano. During a time when blond furniture was popular, that blond piano came to reside in our living room. We had music that belonged to Mom's family when she was a child, music from her era, music from both of my sisters teen years, music from piano lessons. The bounty of music was my delight. I sat for hours at the piano making my way through the pile of music reaching into the past, learning about all types of music and the styles that changed over time. Picture on the front of the sheet music fascinated me. Artistic, historical, pictures of Rudy Vallee and Frank Sinatra. There was a history to be learned at that piano.

Mom was known for organizing singing groups. She taught us all to sing parts. Vivian was alto, I was harmony, Donna and Marilyn were soprano. We were only one group of the many kids who learned to sing sitting next to my mom on a piano bench.

The old piano was worn and aged when it finally left the living room. The ragtime tunes were laid to rest. No more young people would learn to sing at its keyboard in the house back the lane. But music rang out from that farm house on Neff Road. Music that began generations before when the piano was the center of entertainment in homes, when families loved to work together and sing together.

2 comments:

Janet said...

I have a piano story. My mother's mother, Mildred Laird Maddock must have been a good pianist when she was in her teens. She died in the flu epidemic of 1918, leaving my mother at the tender age of 1 yr. When my mother moved to the farm, her mother's piano came along and I and my sister took lessons. After I married, the piano came with me to Neff Rd along with my grandmother's sheet music. Like you, I love looking at the pictures and think about the beautiful music she must have played. I had the piano refinished several years ago and it now sits in my daughter's home with a plaque stating my grandmother's name and birth and death dates. Memories!

Pamela Loxley Drake said...

Janet, I'm thrilled that you realized that your grandmother's piano was a treasure. I love that you had a plaque made for it. Missing you on Neff Road.