Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Silent Piano

We had long used the piano, but not as a piano. It held family photos and knick-knacks. It functioned admirably as a fort when sheets were spread between it and the bench.

But we never played it. Even with books of sheet music on top.

And a silent piano is a sad burden.

Of course, we had grand intentions, when we got the piano for free, plus the cost of moving it, when the kids were about a year old. We wanted to bring live music into the house. I wanted to learn to play. Mama wanted to improve her playing. We wanted the kids to play. We had images of singalongs and lessons and recitals.

The piano was old. 1916. An American-made version of a German piano, I believe. It weighed more than any piano our movers had moved. At some point it had been painted white and green but was stripped and left unvarnished, with bits of white and green still visible in places. It was not in tune. The tuner who had tuned it for the previous tuner said it would be impossible to restore completely without huge expense. Still, it didn't sound off to me because I don't have much of an ear. And we figured it would be okay. It was our starter piano.

Except we never really started. Music came from our iPod or from our box of other musical instruments or from our voices. We tried a few times but couldn't interest the kids in playing. And Mama and I never found the time. Or had the inclination.

And so we realized it was time to let it go . . . so it could be used by someone, so we could have the space back. The kids were reluctant and spent a whole day enthralled by the inner-workings of the hammers hitting the strings, something we'd never shown them. We wavered. Maybe we had them hooked. Until we asked outright if they wanted to take lessons AND practice. Nope. Not at all. Not even a consideration.

Done. The piano left this morning, free to anyone who would have it moved. The kids were intrigued by seeing it wheeled out of the house and into the truck. I wasn't sad, which meant I felt it was the right decision. Mama was conflicted with regret, longing, hope; even though it was her idea, I think it's always going to make her a bit sad.

We moved a bookcase, sorted through some games and puzzles, shifted couches (no, I didn't). It looks different, sending the cats into a tizzy. Not right, not wrong. We'll get used to it. Eventually.

And it we have another longing for a piano, we can try again. Perhaps with a keyboard first. Until then, I'm glad that the old piano will sing again, even if it's for someone else.


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