Piano offers keys to harmonious family legacy

(repost/today's column: www.nrtoday.com)

I started playing the piano as a little girl. My great-grandmother had a piano and played beautifully. I always loved watching her because she wasn't like most upright, stiff piano players you see with bony fingers and wrists held high.

She was a short, stubby little woman who slouched terribly and stuck her tongue out and up to her nose when squinting at the notes.

I remember my family always allowing me and encouraging me to play. I must have sounded horrible as just a baby pounding on the keys.

I would pound away, beaming with the confidence that I sounded like Beethoven and then would stop to receive applause. I figure my family was either deaf or really knew how to practice patience.

I was handed down the piano at a young age and immediately started taking lessons. I went through a number of piano teachers. I hated reading notes and preferred to play by ear. Maybe that's why I kept frustrating a series of teachers.

Once high school hit, I was onto dance, boys, sleepovers and clothes. Not piano. However, I would play occasionally at night when everyone was tucked in.

I never liked playing in front of people. Playing the piano was more for my enjoyment and release.

I finally concluded my relationship with the piano was pretty much over after college. It had been years since I touched those keys and was now almost timid to do so. I also wouldn't dream of fitting the piano inside our 900-square-foot home.

My parents then decided to put their house up for sale and told me it was time to take my piano home.

My husband and I hauled that piano down south and pushed it into our little house. At first, it was like a stranger had moved in, but then it started to really feel like it belonged here.

The history and family memories that embraced that piano filled my house with warmth.

I was still nervous, though. I waited until Chris was out of the house and the baby was sleeping before I began gently pressing on the keys, as if I were afraid to hurt them. I slowly started playing things I remembered and before I knew it, three hours went by.

I was opening book after book and trying to read the notes while slouching, squinting and dropping my wrists. I didn't inherit the tongue trick.

After a week, I've got a sore back and tight fingers from hours of playing. Chris pretends to be relaxed even though I mess up constantly. He tells me he “loves it because it is different every time.”

Now, I watch Audrey at 9 months old and she is sitting on the bench, pounding both hands on the keys and laughing hard. She is glowing and after a “bang, bang, bang,” she looks to mom and dad for their applause.

Every part of her body is moving with excitement, and I don't hear the pounding, I hear beautiful music.

Brittany Arnold is a freelance writer from Roseburg. Send her your comments, stories and questions at myabcsoup@gmail.com. You can also view her blog at www.myabcsoup.blogspot.com.


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