Monday, August 20, 2012

The Old Piano Books



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!

10 comments:

  1. Love it! and I too have many of the books shown above. Not sure if we ever shared books but I mostly remember we had our own. I loved the lessons and like you over the years have put it down and then started over again many times. It is very relaxing and serves as a mental break from all of lifes situations. I'm glad to know you are picking it up again. Maybe we can inspire each other. If you ever decide to get rid of any of these books, let me know first!!!!

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    1. You likely have more books than I, as you took such meticulous care of things back then! Who knows, perhaps you and I will become a duet!

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  2. So being a pack rat has worked for you in this case. Neat old books. There is one old book, Singing Fives Fingers, by Beryl Joiner that I bought just for the author's name. And now I know why there are all these stars (mostly blue) in it.

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    1. Wouldn't it be interesting to find out who Beryl Joiner was and if she's still around? Being a pack rat is a problem many times, but I am glad I kept these!

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  3. It will all come back to you in no time, Sanda! Have you thought of finding a modern piano teacher who will teach you popular or jazz piano? I studied piano from age 5 to 25, but always kept my books too. Recently I parted with a collection of high level classical music, knowing I will never become that accomplished again; they have gone to a piano teacher who will find good homes for them. These days I play for my grandchildren, which is fun and sweet!

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    1. Wow, you studied for a long while! Do you still play very much? So nice you can entertain your grandchildren. I'll have to wait and see about lessons; see if I really get "into" it again.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your story!
    My piano lessons were a horror to me, I hated to take piano lessons. We were prized with stars too.
    As you might guess, my piano notes are long gone.

    However, my younger daughter can play the piano without notes. Therefore we bought a Steinway grand piano for this house. It belongs to this house.

    I do love to listen someone playing the piano, the most beautiful instrument, with the loveliest sound.

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    1. The Steinway grand is such a special thing to have. Looks so beautiful in your room I know. It is absolutely how seven notes on the keyboard can produce so many different sounds. Love piano music. Does your daughter play often?

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  5. What a good choice...I would have chosen the same...I loved my music books and occasionally I think about them, what if I saw them again?! You must be great to be able to play by ear...something to not lose. Wishing you a great Tuesday Sanda!

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    1. Do you play an instrument? piano? I think being able to play by ear was somewhat a hindrance as I progressed in my lessons. Hope your week is going well and the boy cats are happy!

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