Four Lessons from an Old Piano

Linnea on the keys
Linnea on the keys

Linnea, age 6, started piano lessons a few weeks ago, and she is quite excited about learning to play! Of course, her daddy might be slightly more excited about it; he loves the idea of having another musician in the house. And he certainly put some blood, sweat and tears into moving around that 100-year-old piano and restoring it.  Our piano has quite a history; what lessons that old piano can teach!

Lesson #1: Determination and commitment can be rewarding.

My grandparents bought the used piano around 1950 for my uncle. My mother, who was two years younger and a force to be reckoned with, insisted on taking piano years before her mother or the piano teacher thought she was old enough. While my uncle gave up piano rather quickly — he plays ukulele and harmonica instead — Mama took piano until she graduated from high school. It was the centerpiece of many childhood memories, as she fondly spoke of her dear piano teacher and the fancy, frilly dresses my grandma made for her piano recitals.

Lesson #2: Fill your home with pleasant sounds; your children will remember them long after you are gone.

When I was about 5, Daddy moved the piano from my grandparents’ farm to our house. I still remember that day. I was afraid they would drive the truck right into the house!

Growing up I loved listening to Mama play piano. It was the comforting, soothing sound of home. Mama played some hymns for church, but her favorites were John Denver tunes and scores from Broadway musicals like Oklahoma and The Sound of Music. I still see her sitting at the piano whenever I hear one of those familiar tunes.

I always wanted to play piano, too. Mama taught me a few short tunes, but she really was too busy to teach me the theory and fundamentals. Since we lived too far out of town for me to conveniently take lessons from someone else, I just did without lessons. When I got my driver’s license at 16, I finally signed up and drove myself to piano lessons for two years, until I headed off to college. I loved playing piano those two years and still regret that I had to stop!

Lesson #3: Priceless heirlooms can be costly.

After Mama passed away and after I finished college, my dad decided the piano needed to go with me to Minnesota. It’s a heavy, upright piano that probably weighs more than a bus, so it became like another family member as we searched for places to rent. Not many apartments can accommodate an upright piano very easily. We ended up paying extra to rent a townhouse on ground level, just to avoid manuevering the stairs with that piano!

After we moved to our current house, Michael decided to restore the piano’s finish and fix some broken keys. As he worked on it, he realized the working parts inside the piano also needed a lot of attention. That restoration process took years!

Lesson #4: Priceless heirlooms sometimes inspire priceless moments with your children.

Michael finally got the piano into its current, restored condition about a year ago, and now we are all thrilled to hear its tunes fill up our house as Linnea practices Old MacDonald and Mary Had a Little Lamb

What a special way for a little girl to connect with a grandma she’s never met!

2 thoughts on “Four Lessons from an Old Piano

  1. what an adorable photo! Best of luck to you.
    I am a piano teacher and write mostly about music education. Thought you may be interested in reading.

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