Practice Makes . . . Something

Stumbling through a song, trying to play the piano tonight I had a hard time believing I was actually on the 5th grade level when I quit taking piano lessons in high school. Talk about your modern-day parable of the buried talents! We didn’t have a piano until we moved into our house in Delta so I guess I can blame those three years on a lack of access but then I’m sure I could have been creative. When we did get a piano, I was fortunate enough to get my grandma’s upright player piano – the one I’d practiced on all those years. I had to practice for an hour everyday and my mother kept a timer on the top of the piano so I wouldn’t waste so much time getting up and checking the clock. I don’t know how many 30 minute long hours I practiced! I thought I was so sneaky, reaching up and moving the timer ahead. I don’t really remember getting in trouble for the shortened hours so either she really didn’t notice or I was playing so badly she was relieved to have the practice session end early.

I love rearranging furniture and it was because of that love, I got the brilliant idea to move this piano into the basement of our Delta home. I was working nights at the grocery store at the time and came home one night to find my piano in the basement. Alan had called in the cavalry (Elder’s Quorum) and about six of them had finagled that thing into the basement. I was told that if we ever moved, the piano went with the house because it wasn’t coming back up the stairs. Well, about 15 years later we found ourselves packing up to move here. The first thing several of the ward members asked when they found out we were moving was, “How are you going to get that piano out”. Some memory to last 15 years. And none of them volunteered to help, either. Luckily (at least we thought at the time) an acquaintance knew how to disassemble a piano and so with his help and a flat-bed trailer, we brought the piano to our new home in pieces. I can’t tell you how many pieces. As long as it was broken down like that, I figured I’d refinish it before putting it back together. I kept asking Alan, “You were watching him take it apart, right? You do remember how to put it back together, right?” We did finally get it back together but it never really played the same after that so, short story long, I got a newer piano when I was called to play the piano for Church. Recently we went back to Delta for the funeral of a friend. There were a lot of old neighbors and ward members there also. One of the members of the piano-to-basement moving crew is actually now the Bishop and was the first person we met as we walked through the doors of our old church house. The first thing he said after making the acknowledgments and remembering who we were was, “I still remember moving that piano down to your basement!” I was amazed. That piano will live in infamy!

However, I wish I’d have kept up the talent better. I wish I would have kept practicing so I wouldn’t have lost the comfort and familiarity I had when I sat down to play. I wish I’d have practiced my scales more. I have a couple of books that are nothing but scales. I should get them out. Maybe if I refreshed my scale skills (say that ten times fast!), I’d be better able to understand the ups and downs of this life! If I worked at it long enough, I could figure out the fingering so I didn’t hit the wrong keys or falter and lose the rhythm. Some of the books had the fingering outlined but sometimes I just plain had to figure out what worked best for my fingers. I guess maybe there’s more to playing this piano than just plunking out the tune. Maybe I should write an Opus to Life or something. There’d be lots of scales. Not as many sharps as flats (for some reason sharps are harder for me) and there’d be a lot of accidentals. I wonder if it’s possible to have a rest in every measure? Probably not very ear-catching. I struggle with playing the keys soft so I imagine it would be pretty loud through most of the piece. The notes are a little hard to figure out when I get out of the main central area but it seems like not many musical compositions keep right within that two-octave comfort zone anyway. Thank goodness Beethoven set the way for unfinished masterpieces because I don’t have a clue how I want my Opus to end. For now I probably just better keep practicing!

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