I was inspired by a post of fellow-blogger Mette, on her brilliant Metscan blog, to write about an item I can’t bear to part with. Due to my inherited quality of being a “pack-rat, ” I have quite a few things I’ve held onto for years. One of them is my old piano instruction books.
I started piano lessons when I was seven years old. I was an enthusiastic student and continued lessons until I was about 15. Over the years I had several different piano teachers. Miss Ruby Stone was the first and I’d have to say she was my favorite.
Each teacher who came along had her own preference of the course of study to be followed. One liked John W. Schaum, another John Thompson, yet another Leila Fletcher. So I have quite a collection.
As I recall, the piano teachers were allowed to come to the junior high school, where there was a small music room, to instruct her students. There were the spring recitals, which meant we got a new fancy dress and a corsage for the occasion. The Christmas recitals called for a red dress, usually in velveteen.
If we came to our lesson knowing the pieces we had been assigned the previous week, the teacher pasted a gold star on that page; stars were withheld and reassigned until we mastered the piece, although I think we may have been given a red, or maybe silver star, is we almost, but not quite, perfected the piece. We also were assigned theory lessons and scales and chords practice, which I never liked.
I shared the duties with another girl as pianist for a school operetta once. I think I was 14, 8th grade at the time.
Somewhere along the way, I developed the ability to "play by ear," meaning I can listen to songs and create them on the keyboard (nothing elaborate, mind you; not able to replicate every nuance of a written piece, but just the "tune.") I believe this is the reason I decided to finally abandon my lessons, because I found the music books mundane and uninteresting. I wanted to play popular music and did!
Nevertheless, I find it comforting to hang onto all my old piano lesson books. They are battered and torn, but they are pretty old! Take a look at the price on one of them: 85 cents.
I went for years without access to a piano, after I no longer lived at my parents' home. I didn't touch a keyboard for 20 years, and then in 1991, my husband gave me a very nice Yamaha piano as a Christmas present. I was amazed that I could still read the music and remember how to play. I stayed with it for several years, but alas, I have slipped back into not touching my piano, except to dust it.
But I have new plans! Now that I am retired I shall have more time for such indulgences. Will I rediscover Bach? Hmmm. I looked through the book and some of the pieces look fairly difficult. So perhaps it's a good thing I kept my elementary-level piano books. I may have to begin at the beginning this time.
Or maybe I'll just play whatever I like -- whatever song is swimming around in my head on any given day!