Piano Lessons

Internet picture - a fairly close version of
the piano we got from the Osseo American Legion.
I recently read a blog post by a friend of mine. Gretchen wrote about memories of her mom at the piano and her own adventure with the black and white keys.

I highly recommend you read it, and while there, you may want to check out her other posts.

While reading Gretchen's words, it brought to mind a little adventure of my own with a keyboard.

My mom occasionally played an organ in our home from time to time.  Before that, she played the piano every once in a while.  I don't recall her ever playing in public or at Sunday School.  Sad to say, I don't think I ever asked her about it either.

Just a few years after we moved into an old (built around 1865) home in Augusta, Wisconsin, we heard about a free piano and bench available from the American Legion Hall in Osseo.  We just had to pay to move it.

I don't know why we made the deal, but we did.  The piano was built in 1909.  Our piano tuner told us the piano wasn't worth much, but having the bench was.

At the time, I was selling insurance.  My wife and I had two young.  For the first time in my life I took music lessons.

Once a week I met with the Director of Christian Education (D.C.E.) from Grace Lutheran Church in an attempt to learn.  During the week, I spent 20 minutes a day in practice.

It didn't come naturally.  While I had pipe-dreams of bringing the piano to life with swing music or a tune that would make people sing; it was rare when I could play well enough to sing the words myself.

My piano teacher wanted me to share what I learned, so I was asked to play pre-service music at church on the electronic keyboard near the front of the church.

Just one song.

"Amazing Grace" wasn't sounding amazing as my fingers searched for the right notes. I think the congregation could pick out what I was playing, but that was about it.

The more traumatic 'recital' was a year later, just before my teacher left to serve another Lutheran congregation.

I don't remember what the song was.  I remember being nervous and how my fingers seemed to be running into each other instead of finding the right keys.

Deep in my gut and between my ears I could hear the screaming and feel the 'fight or flight' instinct urging me to get up and run out of the church.

I very nearly did.

Mercifully, the last notes were played.  I stood up and didn't look at anyone in the pews and quickly walked, head down, to the back of the church to see if I could find my breath.

It's been at least 11 years since I last sat at a keyboard.  That old piano stayed in the old house when we moved away to a much smaller home, so I have no idea what happened to it.

On the upside, I learned something way out of my comfort zone and had a smidge of success in being able to learn and play (defining the term very loosely).  What seemed to be a performance disaster was a learning experience for 40-something year old student.

Mediocrity at the keyboard was a goal I could have never reached, but I'm glad I gave it a go.

Joy can be found in the disjointed notes and in the rare moments where it sounds like music. It proves to me each of us can get out of our circle of safety and try something new - anything new - the music in heart as you spread your wings will be your symphony.