Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Do re mi

In January, my heart was telling me we needed a piano.  Sure, there was a 30-year-old organ sitting down in the basement with flashing lights and lots of different sounds.  But it seemed like a piano would fit in nicely with our antique (read:  hand-me-down) furniture and with the sensibilities we're moved to follow.

I scoured the web for free local finds, and was lucky enough to spot a 1929 Heintzman & Co. upright piano.  Once we moved it here, I went far back into my memory and started to play.  I've never had a desire to really read music and would prefer to play by ear, so it didn't take to long to get back into the groove.

Still, being an organ player, my left hand was never very strong.  So, I set out to teach myself some new songs.  I went to the used book store to pick up some books and started learning to read music.  I practiced.  I made mistakes.  I played the same tunes over and over until I got them right.  I would play for my children and niece if they asked.

Then, something unexpected happened.  My daughter sat down at the piano and tinkered around.  And it sounded good.  Then she did it again, and again.  Was there some interest in learning an instrument?  I wasn't, and am still not, willing to put her into lessons until she is asking for them.  But what would happen if we worked on some of the basics on our own here at home?  And where would I begin?  Would learning piano be terribly different than learning the organ?

I wasn't sure, so I picked up a few beginner piano books.  The Alfred's Basic Piano Library All-in-One Course to be exact.  When my daughter showed interest, we would look through the exercises and songs, and play a couple.  Other times, I would walk her through a song she was familiar with and teach her how to play it.

Last week, she opened to a page that was just too advanced for her.  I suggested we start at the beginning and, if we practiced, we would get to that song she pulled out soon.  Today, she showed interest in getting into some more of the details.  Like how long to hold the notes.  The notations that indicate volume.  When to know that the song needs to be repeated.  How to know the song is done.

So, we opened up our piano book and started.  And when she was done, we stopped.  She did a beautiful job.  It was thrilling to see her learning a new skill and being a part of it. I'm full of gratitude for the moment we shared together at the piano.

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