Saturday, June 30, 2007

Pee-yan-ah

“Roll out the barrel…”

“My old man said follow the van and don’t dilly-dally on the way…”

“Dad, do you know the piano's on my foot?” - “You hum it son, I'll play it!”


That’s right folks; it’s time for us to throw out the television, discard the DVD, mutilate the MP3 player, crash the computer and make our own entertainment like our parents did when they were young, because we now have a piano.

My mother was a superb pianist – she had all 8 grades and as a child entered several prestigious competitions. She would tell us how there was one snotty nosed geek who, if he turned up, guaranteed no one else stood a chance of winning. She once came 2nd to him, although didn’t feel any particular achievement in it. My mother grew up to become an English and Music teacher, then a wife and mum, while the snotty nosed geek turned into world famous pianist, John Ogdon.

Mum tried teaching me the piano when I was a child, but though I studied it for a while, like most things your parents try and force you into, eventually I rebelled against it. I can’t remember the precise incident that prompted the outburst, but I do recall my mother once yelling at me, “If you don’t want to learn the piano then you don’t have to bother with the bloody thing!” Delighted I’d discovered an escape route, that was the last piano lesson I ever received.

Of course, as an adult I can look back with regret at a missed opportunity, but as a child, watching TV or playing with Lego® was infinitely more fun than practicing scales.

I found out recently that Maggie had lessons for a year back when she was 7, and that there’d been a piano in her house up until they moved a couple of years later. But while tuition had ceased by that time, pathways had been laid down in the brain in such a way that the idea of a piano in the house seemed slightly magical.

Not long ago Rogan mentioned he’d like to learn the piano, and while I nodded and grunted and returned to the Sudoku puzzle engaging most of my attention, Maggie made a mental note and started putting the word out (or more precisely, told our friend Liz who is one of life’s natural networkers). I wasn’t overly aware of this so I was quite surprised when suddenly and out of the blue we were told a few days ago of a couple who were moving to smaller accommodation and were prepared to give us their piano for free if we could collect it by the weekend.

Now when talk begins of moving pianos, immediately images of Laurel and Hardy, or the old PG Tips advert with the chimpanzees, spring to mind. This wasn’t something I was going to be able to do on my own.

The next 2 days were spent frantically calling removal firms who couldn’t do anything at such short notice, or charged so much it would be cheaper to go out and buy a brand new one. After we’d exhausted the phone book and the Internet I set about phoning friends, acquaintances and virtual strangers to try and find someone with a van and half a dozen bodies to help move the thing.

Just as I was beginning to think it was never going to happen, the piano owner phoned to say he’d found a piano tuner who had a horsebox, a wee trolley thing to manoeuvre it with and plenty of experience moving them. So last night we took delivery of an upright Obermeier Pianoforte-Fabrik. It needs a clean and is in desperate need of tuning, but it’s the real thing; it even smells like my mother’s old piano.

Now we just have to find someone who can teach all four of us to play in a weekly half-hour session.

All together now…

“Gertcha…”

22 comments:

savannah said...

pianos...we all have a story about those...or so it seems...i wsih you the best and a good teacher!

Z said...

The good thing about a piano is that you can pick out a tune right from the start and it sounds good.

Mine has been away for ages, while the restorer finds someone to repair the pianola. I miss it awfully, though I've rearranged the furniture and I don't know where I can find room for it when I get it back.

Jeff said...

Kim

Sounds like great fun and I can imagine the whole family around the piano nest Christmas singing carols as you play....I know you can learn this....

Funny thing about movers. We had my mother in laws piano for a bit and moved it twice. Everytime I would tell them about the piano and they would charge me extra...then I would tell them about this antique butcher block we have that actually came out of a butcher shop....always same story...no worries....each and everytime they would say we should have included the piano and charged for that boat of a butcher block.

Not quit posting on your blog and get back to this lessons...

Peace.

ellie said...

Good luck with the lessons. My neighbour plays piano and its lovely to switch off the TV and listen for a while. Hope your neighburs feel the same way. Doh, ray me faa soo....... Arghhhhhh ;)

Mary Witzl said...

My parents belonged to a small amateur music group when I was a kid, and my younger sister would gamely take her turn at the piano, pounding out score after score while they all sang, sometimes accompanied by a lady with a violin who was absolutely the only one of them with a scrap of talent. My best friend's father was a professor of music and all her family were seriously talented and I lived in fear that they would get wind of my parents' awful little group. Though I myself could always follow a tune and sing, I had no musical expertise -- yet I could recognize a lack of it well enough. What a little snob I was, and how I miss those tacky, touchingly unpretentious little sessions now...

Have fun, Kim, and when all else fails, go for corny songs -- lots of them! Your kids will always remember...

Kim Ayres said...

Savannah - sounds like a title for a book of short tales - "Piano Stories"

Z - they do take up the space. We've now got to figure out what we do with the sofa.

Jeff - I think it'll be easier to stick a CD of xmas tunes on...

Ellie - welcome to my ramblings :) It could be many years before anyone gets good enough for it to pleasant to listen to through the walls

Mary - I think I heard Rogan trying to pick out a Coldplay riff earlier...

michael greenwell said...

no andrew lloyd webber allowed

then man is an insufferable £$%^

Sayre said...

I have a 1921 Estee upright that my mother gave me. I don't play the piano, and no one else in my house plays it. My husband is a good noodler, though, and my son shows interest in ALL kinds of instruments, so it may just be a matter of time. We've moved the thing three times with the same mover - a scary man who can pick the thing up by himself! He says it's just a matter of leverage, but I can't leverage something that big by myself...

savannah said...

an aside: have i ever told you how much this label makes me smile AND laugh, sugar?

Odd drinks brought back from a foreign holiday

Kim Ayres said...

Michael - I think Webber accounts for about 60% of all song books out there doesn't he?

Sayre - I get the feeling that even if no one ever learned how to play it, we'll be carryin it around with us for the rest of our lives. Pianos seem to have that quality to them.

Savannah - you haven't told me, in fact very few people have ever commented on my Link Labelling System. I take it as a sign that no one objects.

Then again, it's a long time since Foot Eater, Monstee or Gyrobo commented here...

Nikki said...

I've been wanting to learn how to play for years now.

Kim Ayres said...

Missed you there in the ether, Nikki. Does this mean your blogging again now?

PI said...

We grew up with a piano and your mother was more enlightened than mine - who insisted on spending her hard earned cash on lessons for me which I HATED! My sister was good and she would accompany my Deanna Durbin renderings. Why couldn't I have singing lessons instead?
Moving the piano reminds me of 'Right said Fred!;
Oh the lovely musical soirees you'll have!
What's wrong with A L Webber?

Julie said...

I had a love-hate relationship with my piano growing up. I didn't care for my teacher, but I was so pleased when I could finally play that challenging piece.

I can still read less complicated music without a problem, but I could never be a real pianist.

Conan Drumm said...

I think you can get a piano learning programme for the computer which lets you play the keyboard as if it were a piano keyboard. Either that or I dreamt it.

Eryl Shields said...

Lucky you, I'd love a piano. My mother played and was also a great singer. Sadly the only thing I've inherited from her is arthritis.

Kim Ayres said...

Pat - and our Mums thought they were doing their best for us. Sigh.

Julie - you can read music and play the piano - you're a real pianist.

Conan Drum - I think you need a keyboard attachment - one without letters on it.

Eryl - Best of fortune on your walk to Glasgow over the next 5 days. I hope it has the desired outcome. With you all the way... in spirit at least :)

eg(scotland) said...

As soon as I read this post it took me back to my childhood. I had an uncle - my Mother's uncle actually - who I spent quite a lot of time with as a child and I will never (I hope!) forget sitting with him singing songs like "roll out the barrel" - they were magical childhood times which I so, so loved. Sadly my Uncle Jock died when I was 12 (long time ago now), and to this day I miss him. So thanks for bringing back such fond memories for me.

EG

Kanani said...

Oh, piano lessons.
I hated them.
But I hated them enough to stick with it for ten years!

Christina said...

Cool! A free piano is always nice. My mom also tried to encourage us to play the piano... did not work at our house either. Have fun learnig to play!

The Birdwatcher said...

My parents are moving back to the West Country and tried to palm an old upright piano on me. "But the children would love it." I was not moved. We are only just getting over the attempt to l;earn the Violin and the French horn incidents! The cats are still in therapy.

Kim Ayres said...

EG - it seems Savannah was right with her 1st comment - everyone has a piano story :)

Kanani - so do you still play?

Christina - I wonder what the ratio is between those whose mothers want them to take up the piano, and those who actually stick it for more than a year?

Birdwatcher - The neighbours already have to put up with my son playing the trumpet