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Thursday, 19 May 2011

I Love A Piano

As part of the process of moving my grandmother into her new sheltered accommodation flat (I type, withholding my growl) we've inherited various items of furniture which we've crammed with difficulty into our tiny house. Two new bookcases (never going to turn up my nose at those), a very dapper bureau and my grandfather's piano. Now, it was his piano but he never played. Consequently, I think of it as my grandmother's piano. Although I was told from an early age that it was to be mine. I don't think I believed her until it turned up on my doorstep.

I never learned to play, at least I didn't try seriously. I never had lessons (I played flute instead) and didn't spend too much time around there when my mum was alive as family relations were... fraught with difficulty. And that's putting it mildly. When I was at college I sort of tried to learn but my time at my grandparents' house was mainly spent using their kitchen table for the purposes of writing in little A5 wired notebooks. Some of my most idyllic Sundays were spent at that table, a light breeze coming in through the back door, cups of tea as regularly as I'd like in my koala mug and Elaine Paige on Sunday filtering from the radio. I did make an effort to play a little though and, consequently, I'd got some easy beginner books: a very simplistic Disney book and Easy to Play Abba and the showtunes one in the same series.

The piano was in the house about a week and a half before I actually lifted the lid and considered playing the thing. I'd been viewing it as some sort of bulky ornament. But I gathered my music from the broken stool (a hinge has been broken as long as I can remember) and sat down. Would I remember anything? I wasn't too concerned about treble clef notes as my flute days drummed those into me mercilessly but I'd taught myself bass clef and I didn't think it had stuck. Turned out it had. I know what I'm supposed to be playing. That doesn't mean I play it, mind you, but I know what I'm supposed to be doing.

I've played an hour every day this week. It's a slow, painful, halting process but the rudiments of music are trickling back to me. I'm sticking to fairly slow songs at the moment - 'Bella Notte' from Lady and the Tramp, 'Once Upon a Dream' from Sleeping Beauty. I can sort of play 'Don't Cry For Me, Argentina' but today I got frustrated because I was receiving texts from two people and couldn't get to the end of the damn song! However, the Abba songbook is proving to be the most amusing at this point. The only song I can play in its entirety is 'Hasta MaƱana', a beautiful song that I believe was the B-side to 'Waterloo'. However, the version I've got has the left hand changing from treble to bass to treble etc etc. And me? I can play it almost perfectly. Throw in a complication or two and I'm good to go apparently.

I do hope I keep up with this. I don't have much of a life outside of the PhD and writing my little heart out. I've also dusted off my flute and may even get back to playing that. A fresh start maybe?

I'll leave you with a little Judy Garland and Fred Astaire, just because I couldn't resist the title of this post and you deserve the song for getting to the end.


Annie said...

I would give anything to have room for a piano here, but the only way would be in I slept inside it. Mind you the neighbours are probably very grateful - I've never got past the two finger stage.

CharmedLassie said...

Yes, neighbours are an issue! Yesterday I was struggling through 'What I Did For Love' when the nice side decided to prove a point... by playing a complicated jaunty tune on theirs!

Sal said...

I also played the flute. And so the doplegangerness goes on. Love you much x