Hubby has surprised me in that he is wanting me to have another piano, and once we are settled, I shall be ‘shopping’. I played for my Mum earlier this month and had a lump in my throat. I am thinking about where to put it…………….
I wrote the following originally in November 2013. It expresses my innermost thoughts about my music and my sense of loss…
I’ve been working on this post for a while as I didn’t want it to come across as whining or full of self pity. If you’ve read my post Music and Me, you may understand why I’ve written it this way and hopefully equally understand my reasons for doing so.
I remember the day I bought it. We had been to an Ideal Home Exhibition and one of the displays was of Electronic Keyboards. I’ve played and owned my fair share of electric pianos and organs over the past 40 odd years, and whilst the gadgetry and automation is all very nice and can be a lot of fun, the novelty soon wore off for me. I felt that the music emitting from the instrument was OK, but artificial, no matter how I struck the keys.
That day, we decided to buy a second hand piano, and I knew just the place and person to buy from. Her showrooms were like an Aladdin’s Cave and I played every set of ivories available. She asked my hubby if he’d like a cup of coffee saying it was obvious that I knew what I was looking for, and it made a refreshing change to listen to someone else play rather than have to go through her sales pitch. Another couple came in and decided on a particular piano within moments of my finishing a piece on it, which was probably one of the quickest and easiest sales of her career!
Over an hour later, I had narrowed my choice down to two. They were both new, identical in name, price, design and casing, but I settled on this particular one because the black keys were more rounded and smoother to my touch. As it was not second hand and with hubby’s full approval, I spent the entire house decorating budget, but it was worth it as my music gradually took on a whole new depth, something even more personal and heartfelt. This piano seemed to make my music sound better, and in turn, I felt I played it exceptionally well.
After selling our previous property, we had to put it into professional storage for almost a year. Our purchase had fallen through but rather than lose our buyer, we went into temporary accommodation. I remember the day it arrived here. The 2 strapping lads that delivered it were brilliant, taking extreme care bringing it into the house and putting it where I wanted it to be. It hasn’t moved since. It’s a beautiful piece of furniture, solid, and extremely heavy. So heavy in fact, that hubby and I can’t lift it, let alone move it.
Over the past eighteen months, I have played very little. My finger joints have become more swollen, distorted and twisted with arthritis, and the resulting cramp if I played for any length of time locked them in an unnatural position which took some time to relax out. It could be extremely painful and my timing, plus any emotional interpretation of the piece I was playing, went to the dogs and my sense of pleasure was replaced with frustration. The painkilling cream I could apply was just a short fix and made my hands and fingers slide onto the wrong notes, thus producing a similar emotional effect as well as sticky keys to contend with.
In hindsight, I believe I was at my ultimate best about 5 years ago and shortly after we moved here. Having then recently taken an early retirement package, I was able to play to my heart’s content any time during the day and for as long as I wished, rather than an angry quick half an hour bash after a hard or frustrating day at work, if I could find the energy to start with.
Although I’ve added very little to my repertoire over the past 8 years (due mainly to the fact that the majority of Music today in my opinion has little substance, meaning, or distinct melody), I was able to enhance my favourites from the old musicals. I have never considered myself a budding Liberace, Russ Conway or Richard Clayderman, but even to my own ears, the music I was then producing could truly be quite moving. I played more for myself, but if someone wanted to listen, then that was OK.
The last time I sat down to play I felt like four separate entities….. my head was thinking one thing and although my right hand was playing OK, the left was doing something more or less of its own, and my heart became so very, very heavy. It was not the first time, and I was saddened that my ‘safety valve’ of music, the way I was able to express myself through it, had deteriorated in so short a time. I sat at the keyboard several times wanting to play, but the music would not always come and sometimes half way through a piece, I’d forget the melody completely and fumble over the keys whether my fingers had locked or not. Although I am certain I will never lose my natural gift completely, I am equally certain that I will never again play as well as I did, therefore my music can never be as rewarding to me as it was five years ago. I felt as if I’d lost an old friend, everything had changed, and so I decided to sell my piano and move on.
I found a buyer through my piano tuner, and their son is eager to learn from a private tutor. He was asked to come and give his professional assessment and said that it was indeed a ‘good piano’. I knew that when I bought it over fifteen years ago.
I am 99% confident that my piano has gone to a good home, where it will be respected, looked after and played often. It is no less than it deserves, as despite my love of playing, I can no longer do it justice. It was just sitting in the corner awaiting the rare occasion I’d lift its lid to either dust or sit at the keyboard and try to recapture the past, though my heart wasn’t really in it and there was no soul in what I was playing…… or trying to.
I sincerely hope this young man derives as much pleasure and satisfaction from his playing as I have over the years. I believe that if you play or learn on a good quality instrument, it becomes an extension of you because you feel the music more and grow with it. I know I did. Who knows, maybe he is to become a prominent musician of the future.
I would be lying if I said I won’t miss it. Having a piano you do not play is so different from wanting to play something you do not have. For the moment though, I am content with my decision. From another viewpoint, perhaps having a complete break for a while will restore my pleasure and in a few years I will buy another, maybe even the baby grand which had always been a dream of mine for when I officially retired. After all, Music has been a vital part of my life for over 50 years, but as with so many things in later life, we have to adapt sometimes.