Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Musical Cakes

We always had a piano in the house, it was an old Chappell upright, made of a rich dark brown wood and had a fold down music rack and the velvet covered seat lifted up to store your music books. My mother had learned on it as a child as well and the ivories were worn such that they were no thicker than the blade of a butter knife and by the time I was 16, the force of playing would rend the keys from their wooden bases so that by the time I left home there was a little pile of thin ivory keys in the seat.

I remember playing on my teachers piano at one of my first lessons when I was 5 and balking how alien the thick heavy keys of the much newer piano felt. I thought that the teachers piano was broken. Because mine was the pinnacle of pianistic perfection. (Excuse my alliteration.)

As a child, I love playing the piano, my older brother played as well and being 3 years younger and hero worshipping him as younger sibling do when they're not vehemently hating on their older counterparts, I wanted to do everything that he did.

I practiced, under some duress, every morning before school and somehow came to the conclusion quite early in my piano playing career, that faster was better. Somehow I thought that my half hour would go faster if I played everything at speed. It just meant that I had to play it again. And again. And again. Everything I played was at speed. My tiny hands would fly across the keys, playing perfect scales at a speed you would hardly believe my 5 year old fingers would be capable of.

I would play "concerts" for my parents, particularly for my father who would sit patiently through my hurried repertoit of ballads, classical scores and examination pieces which I would play again and again, he would listen amusedly to my alarmingly off-key singing, I still find it bizarre that someone who was so musical and played for so many years still can't sing a note to save her life. I'm an enigma, or at least that's what my Uncle told me once as he patted my head after being coerced into listening to one of my never ending concerts. At 6, I'd not yet learned the meaning of the word and figured that he was telling me that I was awesome. So I played another thousand songs for him.

I never really listened to my father telling me to keep up with my piano playing that it was a fantastic skill to have and if I could sit down and play something on the piano I could command the attention of an entire room. This forgotten, by the time I was 18 I'd long stopped taking lessons and played quite infrequently. After I left home, every time I went to a friends house and found that they had a piano or keyboard i'd inevitably find myself sitting at it, playing Fur Elise or the Moonlight Sonata from memory in their entirity, always at speed. Naturally.

I returned home a year or 2 later to find that my parents had gotten rid of the piano which we had carted through 3 states and had been collecting dust in the sitting room. I was heartbroken. Given, I only came home a couple of times a year and only played the piano for a few minutes each of those times but I still felt betrayed and mourned the loss of that piano. People keep telling me to invest in a keyboard to get back into it but they don't feel right, they aren't properly weighted and they just feel wrong.

I could never play a keyboard.

I'm kind of a piano snob.

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