I was going to write a post about the government shutdown, but everything I would say is already apparent for those with my politics and unlikely to be interesting for those without. While I have been both entertained and disappointed by the legislative branch of my federal government this week, life has gone on.
After years of swearing that we had no room for one, I finally reaching a breaking point with playing music on my digital keyboard and decided that it was time to find a proper piano. This is entirely a result of a sforzando in Beethoven’s Sonatina in G, which he wrote as a fifteen year old. My fifteen year old me also wants to bang on a keyboard and make that chord ring out, which I just can’t do on my keyboard. So I started hunting on Craigslist and found someone who was selling a 1978 Hardman-Peck console piano for $100. When I went to take a look at it, I discovered keys that didn’t work and was about to walk away from it when the owner lowered the price to free.
Well, then. It appears I have adopted a piano.
One of the great things about the Internet is how large it makes the local community. I had a need, so I went looking, and I was able to help someone out — someone who viewed the piano as furniture that needed to be removed, as he’s downsizing and moving to Florida. And by helping him out, I was able to upgrade my instrument for a reasonable price. After paying the movers and the tuners, I’ll have a working instrument, and a piece of history, for about $500. Symbiosis.
My piano, who we will henceforth call the Lady Gertrude, actually began life in the same town that I live in now, when it was purchased new by the wife of the fellow who gave her to me, and was used by her until her death three years ago. I have the original documentation for the piano, as well as tune-up receipts dating back to 1979. It is a console, so it’s a little smaller than a full upright, which is supposed to affect the sound quality, but the sound is still very decent. Certainly the sound is much richer and fuller than anything but what digital keyboards can do. I like very much that I know the full ownership history and that the piano was well-treated and loved for its entire life – and that it is much of an age with myself. It feels a little bit meant-to-be.
But it gets even better. The Lady Gertrude’s former family contacted me this week to ask if I would like a bunch of old sheet music that had belonged the mother-in-law of the original owner. Yes…yes….yes!
My new collection of music has a lot of gems – it ranges from 1930 through 1977 in dates – and has a fair share of instructional classics and many songs from movies with Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant on the covers. It also has a 1960s edition of Songs from the Gilded Age, a copy of a 1970s era book of Christmas Carols that we had in my childhood home, as well as my favorite, a (sadly incomplete) set of instructions from 1933 from the U.S. School of Music. These instructions not only give advice about how to improve your piano playing, but also how to live a better life. My favorite philosophy note so far is this one:
“Play this piece for someone else. Tell them it makes you feel. See if it does not bring back to those the spirit of the times when they were — Just Kids–
Aren’t they happy? And you have made them feel that way with your piano playing after only five weeks of home piano study. Aren’t you happy to be able to do that?
When you play for others, it is for the distinct purpose of bringing more joy into their lives.”
When you play for others, it is for the distinct purpose of bringing more joy into their lives. Words to live by, even if you never play a single note on a musical instrument in your entire life.