Sunday, November 1, 2009

Play It Again, Sam

[This is a submission for the 83rd Carnival of Genealogy (COG) ~ the theme of which is "Musical Instruments".  The beautiful COG poster below was designed and provided by the footnoteMaven.  This COG will be hosted by Janet Iles at her blog Janet the Researcher.]

Everything Else To Go
My mother always wanted to play the piano, so I took piano lessons for 7 years.  Yes, seven years.  Whenever I tell people this, they always cringe.  I didn't mind, though, at the time, and I still don't mind.  I mean how do you know if you like and/or are good at something if you don't try?  It's an education ~ just not in a school building.  For the last five of those years, I also took ballet, tap, and jazz dance lessons.  Alas, I never did become a pianist nor a dancer, but they were two things that were checked off my list.  Piano and dance "down" and everything else "to go."

And I Practiced A Little More
I really couldn't stand my piano teacher; she was really grumpy.  I got the impression that she didn't like kids very much, which was kind of odd since that is exactly who she taught.  I had a more than healthy "respect" for her, though.  At one of my first lessons, I made a mistake while playing and she "rapped" my hands with her musical stick pointer "thingy".  Now, stop cringing and getting all upset on my childhood's behalf.  Every time I share this little tidbit, people always get all upset, and if someone did it to my child, well, let's just say they'd know exactly what a "mama bear" is once I was done.  However, this was a different time and place.  I always get the question, "What did you do?"  I guess people expect that I went home and told my mom, but I didn't.  I went home, and I practiced.  And I practiced, and practiced, and then I practiced a little more.  I practiced until I didn't make any mistakes while playing the musical piece.  I never did get my hands "rapped" again for making a mistake.  It really had been just about my pride and my sense of competition for me.  And my mom?  Well, she got to listen to me practice while she made dinner, which was her absolute favorite part.  You see, she had grown up poor, seven of eight children, and there had been no extra money for piano lessons while she was growing up.  However, if you could hear my mother sing, you'd know that she can't carry a tune in a paper bag.  Let's just say that my mother is just not musically inclined, but oh, how she wanted to be!

It's A Bust!
Speaking of competition, the real impetus of my "stick-to-it-ness" with the piano lessons was a plastic bust.  You see, every year at the recital for perfect attendance each child received a plastic bust  [6 inches in height] of a famous composer.  My first year my mother and I were a little "spotty" on the attendance, and I didn't receive one.  That moment was when I realized that piano could be competitive.  There was a prize for goodness sakes!  Why hadn't anyone told me this?  If I had known there was a prize, I would've shown up for every lesson.  After that year, I had perfect attendance, and I received a different bust every year for six years.  Towards the end of my piano career, I was even in official piano competitions.

Play It Again, Sam
The demise of my piano career was due to making the volleyball team [and the basketball team, and the softball team].  While there is competition in piano, it's lonely.  I guess I preferred the team sports.  Oh well.  In looking back, I'd do it all again because nothing put a bigger smile on my mom's face than when I practiced while she fixed dinner every evening.  She'd always say, "Play it again, Sam," and I did.


  1. This brought back memories of my childhood piano teacher. She was grumpy, too, but instead of rapping little fingers, she stomped her foot hard on the floor, loud enough to scare me into submission.

    I love your posts. They always bring back memories.


  2. What wonderful reflections of your childhood! I took piano lessons too but I didn't stick it out nearly as long as you did. Looking back, I wish I'd stuck it out longer.

    I don't know if my mom ever "enjoyed" my practicing but in spite of being tight with her money she still coughed up the price of lessons for me. I guess that says she was behind me!


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