Hey, guess what? It’s Gratituesday!
One of my earliest memories is pretending to play the piano on a wooden shelf while one of my mother’s piano students banged away at a song in the adjacent room. I was an extraordinarily gifted pretend piano player. When my mother played I became a prodigy of the imaginary keyboard in front of me.
Later, I graduated to playing my own compositions of rainstorm, the high notes, and thunderstorm, the low notes, and tornadoes, running my hand up and down the keyboard.
How anyone tolerated this noise is miraculous to me.
Mom taught me the basics. “Here we go, up a row, to a birthday party,” became my favorite song for a few months, because I could play the entire song. Even if it was only eight measures and one hand. When I learned to add the left hand to make a harmony with my right hand, I was ecstatic.
My favorite cartoon character wasn’t Bugs Bunny or the Road Runner. It was Schroeder, the piano playing, wise man of the of the Peanuts gang. I longed for a miniature piano with the range and ability Schroeder had. I wanted my own Beethoven bust overseeing my progress. I was sure if I mastered the piano I would be master of everything and, even better, that boys would flock to me. I didn’t really pay attention to the fact that Lucy was the only one drawn to Schroeder and she was a bit nuts, a bully even.
For a couple of years I had a piano teacher that Mom and Dad paid for. I suppose that was helpful. I was probably more disciplined about practicing for someone other than a relative.
For as long as I can remember, Mom always taught piano lessons in our home. Every day after school, and every morning during the summer, students would file in and file out, filling the house with what passed as music. It was the theme music to our lives. If any house had a soundtrack, ours surely did and it was filled with stops and starts, hesitation and things played off-key. But it was a weird, joy-filled music.
Mom’s income helped pay for all kinds of “extras” and let her be a stay at home mom, still caring for us kids. She was always there for us if catastrophe struck, still there for us if a sibling was being unfair, still there for us if we needed the reassurance that she was there.
I’m sure it wasn’t easy. We probably drove her crazy with near constant interruptions, too much noise, too many questions. But she taught a gazillion kids the piano, and she taught me the piano. She also taught me and patience and persistence.
She also gave me the gift of music. I’m not a concert pianist. I quit lessons as a teenager. But I can plunk out a kids song, accompany a choir, and play for enjoyment. I am blessed beyond measure by this singular gift. How grateful I am for my piano teacher mom.