Friday, December 17, 2010

Piano Lessons

The hours between 5:00 pm and 7:30 pm are always a blur. During that time, there is a mad scramble to tackle dinner. I bribe one of the older children to wrangle The Baby while I face the unruly components which will comprise our meal. I chop vegetables with such urgency as if they might escape me if I don’t dice them fast enough. I swear at the olive oil which hisses and stings my hands as I attempt to attend to the chicken which is sautéing in it. I try to temper the pot which is boiling over with pasta. We feed the baby who is not content to be contained in her high chair; I deflect complaints and scowls of the children who are not pleased with what is offered on their plates; we wolf down the meal; try to catch up with the kids; and The Mr. and I clean up after the plates and argue with the children about the importance of good hygiene (you would think that they were little witches the way they are so adverse to taking a bath or shower). Then we settle the baby into bed (that entails multiple steps as well) and complete various other tasks. Last night The Mr. and I were sidetracked with additional chores- it was garbage night, a toilet was clogged (will they ever learn to courtesy flush?!), The Mr.’s dress/ work clothes needed to be laundered (I don’t trust myself to do it. Too many single red socks have breached the loads and turned our whites to pinks). So Princess Commando and H took on the duty of keeping after The Baby while we tied up our loose ends. All they needed to do was let her roam around the living room and steer her away from electrical outlets and cords which are her favorite play things.

 The children’s most beloved pastime, especially after dinner, is noise making-lots and lots of ear piercing, inhuman sounds. Last night, they gave The Baby a piano lesson which created a novel din in the house. Princess Commando took the low notes, H was somewhere in the middle, and The Baby took the high notes. Somehow, though, through the cacophony of three separate musical movements, a sweet song seeped through. They had managed to find the same rhythm- to clumsily pluck and plunk in a collaborative tempo.  H had perched The Baby on the piano bench. She was so proud of herself to be up high- delighting in the cause and effect of pressing the keys and bringing forth sound. She earnestly followed H’s direction as he knelt beside her on the floor.

She is about the same age as each of her siblings were when they first discovered the large, wooden noise box. I have pictures of each of them- standing on tiptoes, fingers stretched to the limits to reach the keys.
H at about 18 months old at our old house

Princess Commando 2 years Old
I have always valued having instruments in the house. I grew up with the piano and I eventually took up guitar. My grandfather is an accomplished pianist. Watching him play when I was a child, I always marveled at how his hands glided across the keys with such ease, creating a sound as smooth as silk. His talent for transposing music to suit musicians or vocalists who might accompany him is nothing short of amazing. I wish I had inherited that gift. Even now, as he is somewhat taken with Alzheimer’s, finding the tune, caressing the melody from the keys is so natural to him.
My Papa on Thanksgiving Day at my mother's house.

The piano in our possession came with our first house. They belonged to my step-father (the house and the piano). It was a little rusty sounding back then (13 years ago). But, it is hopelessly out of tune now. Time has also loosened the tops of some of the keys exposing the hardened glue that once held them in place. My grandfather, upon noticing its very sad condition, brought me a box of key veneers years ago. But, other priorities kept me from tending to repairing the keyboard. I used to play the piano daily despite its ill sound. But, I haven't had much inclination to play since we moved to our new home. It has always been my intention to provide the children with piano lessons. It is my firm belief that all children should learn to play at least one instrument. It is an outlet, a release, an expression which offers balance when life is askew. But, alas, money has always been allocated for other needs. And the absence of real live music in the house- no matter how square or clunky it comes out-  has been added to my list of regrets. But we are coming upon a new year and I am hopeful that there will be plenty of opportunities for music. In the very least, I am determined to have the piano tuned and its keys restored. In the meantime, I will have to settle for the sweet, tinny sounds of my little trio- Princess Commando, H and The Baby.


  1. It's nice to know that you have a piano at home...i think it would be a nice New Year gift for the kids to have it restored...just a suggestion...

  2. Hey A, just wanted to let you know that I have passed on the Honest Scrap Award to you... :)