Look for Me Sitting on the Piano Bench

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Dear friends,

I have been AWOL here at the blog for a couple weeks. Another trip to California. Upcoming books to promote, music to play, dog to walk, bla, bla, bla. I have been working through some poems from a few years ago and would like to share this one with you today. Most of it is true. There are moments when I see myself sitting at the piano at Sacred Heart playing songs I learned in my childhood and I’m amazed. Without lessons or encouragement, I never stopped learning to play those 88 keys. I’m still learning a little more every day and grateful for the privilege.

HER CALLING

Her mother says, “Go change your clothes,”
but instead she runs to the piano.
Climbing up on the stool, feet swinging
in her Oxford shoes with lace-trimmed socks,
she picks out the notes of the hymns
the sisters sang at catechism class.
“Ave, ave, ave Maria.”
“Holy God, we praise thy name.”
Her fingers half the size of the keys,
she finds the tunes and sings along,
grinning through the gap in her teeth.
“Stop that noise,” her father says,
turning on the baseball game.

But she cannot stop. She plays anything
that makes a noise—toy xylophones
and saxophones, plastic ukuleles—
and sneaks minutes at the piano when
her dad goes out to mow the lawn
or her mother leaves for the grocery store.
From a yellowed old instruction book,
she learns to clap out time and beats,
four-four, three-four, six eight,
quarter notes, half notes, whole notes
allegretto, andante, pianissimo.
Blocked by the family photographs,
she moves them to expose the keys.

At school, she finds the practice rooms,
a bench, a piano, an unlocked door.
But still she has to sneak. She’s
never had proper lessons, isn’t
authorized to be there, but
she’s drawn to it like a lover
she meets secretly at lunch,
then runs, breathless, to her English class.
One day, outside, a young man hears.
She blushes as he claps his hands.
When they marry, he buys a Wurlitzer
spinet, all 88 keys just for her.
He never tells her to hush, not once.

She’s widowed nearly a decade now,
but her wedding band shines in the light
as her wrinkled fingers dance,
playing the notes of the “Gloria.”
Her right foot pedals, beating time.
Behind her, the congregation sings,
one man in the back especially loud
and half a beat or so behind.
Leading the choir with nods and waves,
she smiles up at Jesus on the cross,
remembers that child with tiny hands
sneaking songs so many years ago,
because The Almighty told her to.

***

Copyright Sue Fagalde Lick 2019

 

 

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Google yourself some free piano lessons

I’m in love. This love predates both husbands and all of my dogs. It’s not a man. It’s a piano. Yes, I have been in love with the piano since I was a little girl. It was love at first listen.

  

I was not one of those kids forced into lessons. In fact, I never had a real piano lesson until I was in my 40s. And I didn’t stay with any teacher for long. Too expensive, and it was difficult to mesh what I had already taught myself, sometimes incorrectly, with what they had to teach. Plus I wasn’t a kid with free time after school. I was a grownup with a job, a house and a husband to take care of. But I started playing when I was seven years old, using my mother’s old piano books, and I have never stopped playing or wanting to learn how to play better. If there’s a piano in the room, I want to get my hands on it.  
Enter Google, one of my best friends. I don’t know whether Google is male or female, but he/she/it is magic. Ask and be answered. What’s the capital of Maine? What does PCOS stand for? What animal is leaving those footprints where I walk in the woods? It’s all there. So, the other day I was singing at the piano, wishing I knew more about how to accompany myself, when I suddenly thought: Ask Google!
After all, I had found guitar, mandolin and piano lessons online before. Sure enough, I typed in “accompany singers on piano” and I got several listings. Having myself a little clickfest, I found videos, sheet music, and even a free e-book. All kinds of music lessons are offered for free on the Internet. Want to learn to read music? It’s there. Want a few new jazz licks? Yup, it’s there. Now, many of these online teachers will urge you to get on their mailing list and will eventually suggest you purchase their courses.  Some of those courses are good values when you consider in-person lessons cost about $30 for a half hour. But you don’t have to buy the courses. The freebies are enough to keep you playing for days, and it’s fabulous to have somebody to play along with, especially if you live alone with a dog who can’t play any instruments and can’t even manage a respectable howl.
Try these for starters: webpianoteacher.com and fastpianolessons.com. Also search Google and YouTube. Have fun!
Oops, I just stopped writing to read this one lesson and then I had to go to the piano and try it and oh, what can I say? I can’t resist a piano. I think I feel a song coming on. See you later.