Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li

Piano in the Loft

During the flood, a woman had the first floor of her house completely wiped out and along with it was a piano that she'd had for most of her life. Her brother is a concert pianist, she is not, but she took great comfort in the music. She's a single mom, and was living in a friend's house while we were rebuilding hers. She worked on her house pretty much every time I was there, and near the beginning John realized that she really missed her piano.

So we lent her mine.

Decades ago I'd been researching digital pianos and their cost, and one weekend I'd ducked into Costco to get something, and they were having a flash sale on digital pianos for about two-thirds their usual price. I walked out of the store with a piano on a cart. I'd played piano as a child, ten years of it, won second in a California-wide state competition, and as soon as I was out of my parents' house I dropped it. I wanted to play again, but even after I bought it back then, I just never really sat down to it.

We moved it here to Colorado, stuck it in various basements and I never played it, so I decided to lend it to her. She loved it, and it comforted her as nothing else could. Music was such a solace for her, that it made a huge difference for her.

Last week, we moved her back into her house. It's mostly finished, just some small stuff to do, but she was able to live in her house again. With some trepidation I asked if we could have my piano back, and she was very happy to have us take it again, grateful for the loan when she was in need. When we went to get it she said that she'd gotten offers from two different people for free pianos, so she would be provided for. So John and I picked it up from the house where she'd been living, and took it home. Rather than put it into the basement, we put it in the loft that doubles as Jet's office.

His two desks, computer, office supplies, printer, and everything are up there. It used to be his play room, and now he has all kinds of things in there, and there was just room for the piano to one side of one of the desks. To my surprise and delight, Jet started to just noodle around with the piano, to play with it rather performing the way I'd been taught to as a child. Dad had always been very interested in my piano playing, and he really tried hard to get me a great teacher, and that particular teacher inspired me for some time before he retired.

Jet and I did some scales, and he learned major scale structure theory very quickly, as he's been doing scales for band, but knowing the underlying principles was a delight to him. He went through all the major scales, and then got tired and said he was going to lie down and listen to me because he'd lost so much sleep at an overnight last night to celebrate the first day of summer break.

I've been afraid to play, I think, because I kept thinking of how much I must have lost... but today, while Jet napped on the floor, I just played. Starting with scales and finger exercises and when I found that my hands were not too tired from that, I went into Bach two-part inventions, and set the piano on harpsichord and delighted in the sound. I surprised myself by being able to play each hand alone, and with a little work and just trying some more I could put both voices together. The timing stumbled, it was far off tempo, but... I could play.

When John came home from his errands I got a little self-conscious, and eventually stopped, but I was surprised to find that I could just read the bass line if I didn't actually think too hard about 'which' note it was. I could just feel where the note was supposed to be. I've probably not really played for thirty years, so I'm kind of happy I tried again. Most of the music had 1978 on it. It'll be interesting to see where that goes...

Tags: music

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