Fur Elise

bec carter kenzie singing carols

Carter, Bec, and Kenzie perform at the piano.

I took piano lessons for somewhere in the neighborhood of five years. I think I started around the age of 7, and around the age of 12 I finally persuaded my mother that the money being spent was pure, unadulterated futility as I had absolutely no talent. Oh, I could pound out a song and even memorize a few twice a year for the requisite (and greatly dreaded) recitals, but my playing was nothing special.

Bec took lessons and so did Jen. Both had more talent than I, especially Bec (who actually majored in music for about a brief time when she first started college). Mom apparently took one look at my brother Dave and threw in the towel.

We had a big upright piano that lived in our little dining room in Columbus. Given the difference in our ages, Bec would probably have been nearing the end of her lessons when I began mine. I don’t recall having to share the piano for practicing. I do, however, remember practicing. One half hour each day, Monday through Friday. Mom set a timer and started the metronome and there were no exceptions. I hated every minute. Outdoors was calling as I slaughtered a Mozart minuet.

Bec and I took lessons from our second cousin, an older woman named Isabelle (she seemed ancient, but in hindsight, she was probably 40) who was unmarried. An old maid is how the world referred to her at that time. Isabelle had attended a greatly-respected music college in St. Louis, and was well educated and quite skilled. For the most part, we only learned serious music, mostly classical. I became grateful for that later in my life, but as a 7-year-old, I would have preferred more contemporary music. Jen, who took lessons from someone else (and I frankly can’t remember why) learned music that was much more fun.

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Kaiya, not dancing…..

The result of my five years of lessons is that I can now play Für Elise by Ludwig van Beethoven. The beauty of Für Elise is that it sounds really complicated but is actually quite easy to play. From the time Kaiya was able to walk, she danced to Für Elise as I played it on my piano. She’s 7, and still does.  Lots of twirling. “Please play my dance song,” she will say.

Given a bit of practice, I can pound out Silver Bells and White Christmas at Christmastime. Please understand, however, that I can only play any of this music because of muscle memory. Though I am able to read music, I would be hard pressed to sit down and play from a new piece of sheet music.

Despite this fact, I insisted that we buy a piano when we bought our house in Denver. There is a spot that I’m convinced was designed for a piano, as our spinet fits perfectly. My plan was that I was going to once again take lessons and become somewhat proficient. That was 23 years ago, and I can still only play Für Elise. However, if I ever talked about getting rid of it, three things would happen.

First, I would have to find something to fit in a space that screams PIANO;

Second, I would have to find a different place to put the pictures of my grandkids; and

Third, the grandkids – every last one of them – would pitch a fit because they all like to sit down and pound on the keys. Addie does more than pound because she has actually taken lessons. Kaiya yearns to play, and has memorized a couple of songs that have been taught to her by Addie. The piano desperately needs tuning because, well, pounding. But I don’t get it tuned because, well, pounding. Often there are orange Cheeto fingerprints on the piano keys.

singing carols

Silver bells, it’s Christmastime in the city…..

This past Christmas, Bill and Jen and I had dinner one night at Bec’s, and she sat down at the piano and played some Christmas music. She and her grands – Kenzie and Carter – had actually prepared a Christmas Concert as a surprise for their parents and they did a round 2 for us. Singing Christmas carols around the piano brought back such wonderful memories of Christmases past. My family never failed to sing at least one round of Silver Bells and Do You Hear What I Hear? around Christmastime.

One last thought about piano lessons. My cousin Bobbie also took lessons from Isabelle, and it was abundantly clear that she got the bulk of the piano playing talent in the family. Bobbie went on to also study at that same music college in St. Louis, and plays beautifully to this day. She can play more than Für Elise.

This post linked to the GRAND Social

Random Thursday Thoughts

It’s the Bomb

Desperately looking for something to occupy my time the other afternoon as Bill worked outdoors, I got onto Netflix to see what was available. After much perusing, I ended up with (of all things) The Karate Kid. It is a great movie. It has 1980s-Hairstyles--5been a great movie all of the 750 times that I’ve watched it over the years since 1984. As with most Generation X-ers, Court became interested in karate because of that movie, and his dad and I even enrolled him in classes for a short period of time. But what struck me most from the movie was the hair and clothing. Wow. I remember it so well. I absolutely LOVED my stonewashed jeans that fit tightly above my waist, in fact, above my belly button. And my hair, as everyone else’s who was an adult in the 1980s, was big and blown and curled away from my face, ala Farrah Fawcett. Remember leg warmers, thanks to Flashdance? We wore them even though we weren’t even close to a dance floor. And oh, those shoulder pads. Believe it or not, to this very day, the clothes of the 1980s are my favorite style.

Flitting Around

I’ve noticed as of late that I have the attention span of a gnat. Actually, what I sternly tell myself is that I’m like a cat that gets distracted by a beam of sunlight coming into the window and showing dust mites in the air. I start doing something, get distracted and begin something else, get distracted again and before you know it, I have three or four things half finished. Here’s an example. I was unloading the dishwasher when I remembered that I wanted to get the grandkids’ Easter cards in the mail. So I began to address the cards. But I needed to look up postage for a heavier card. I moved to my computer and looked up postage. While at my computer, I decided to see how many hits I’d gotten on my blog. Then I started thinking about blog ideas and I started looking something up on Wikipedia, which, NEVER FAILS to suck me in. Before I knew it, I was looking up totally unrelated things. After a half hour or so, I saw the cards sitting on the table. I went to get the postage stamps, and nearly tripped over the dishwasher’s open door since I hadn’t finished that project. And so it goes. I blame age. And all the hairspray I had to use to keep my hair away from my face in the 1980s.

10% is 10%

Speaking of age, cashiers have started giving me the senior discount without asking if I’m eligible. At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about their presumption of my age (though admittedly, they’re accurate). But my cheapskatyness won out over my vanity, and I have decided I will take the 10 percent discount any day of the week.

Orange Fingers

You have your people with a sweet tooth. You have your people with a cheetossalt tooth. Bill is definitely in the former group. He absolutely craves and loves anything sweet. Particularly if chocolate is involved. Beckie’s brownies are his perfect food. My secret craving? Cheetos. In fact, back in Denver, I have taken to buying a bag and giving them to Bill to hide someplace so that I can have them available for lunch but not available for snacking in the afternoon. I’m not proud of this fact. After all, CHEETOS. They make my fingers orange. I love them.

Sock it to Me

As you know, Bill and I live alone. And in both of our houses, we have a laundry room with our own washer and dryer. It’s probably 20 steps from my dryer to my bedroom in our Denver house, and about 5 steps here in Arizona. And yet….AND YET…. I can’t tell you how common it is for me to lose a sock. It’s simply inexplicable. Where could they possibly go?

That’s all folks. Gotta go chase a sunbeam.