I have been looking for a new home for my piano. I’d like to donate it to a group that could use it, rather than having it sit untouched – a gorgeous decoration in my living room.
I started taking piano lessons when I was 8 years old. While my mom taught piano all of her life, even when working full-time as a speech pathologist, she was not my teacher. This was good. I bristled when she would make her rare, mild, much-needed suggestions during my practicing.
In junior high, high school and part of college, piano lessons were a big part of my life. I accompanied choirs, participated in many contests and went to a national music camp for a month a couple of times. I was into it.
I enjoyed learning new music. When assigned a new piece, I was taught how to break it down into bite-sized sections and gradually put the puzzle back together into a beautiful, cohesive picture. It was always a bit of a shock and oh-so-satisfying when that happened.
While studying the piano, I learned skills that serve me well today. One professor firmly taught me that focused practice is far more productive than unfocused practice. This seems obvious, but is easier said than done. He had high standards and would accept nothing less than my very best effort. I also enjoyed seeing an unknown, disliked, new piece of music transform itself into something I liked as I learned to play it.
All of this study and practice was time-consuming. By the time I was in high school, my teacher expected me to practice two hours/day. The same was true in college, even though I wasn’t a music major. Finding the time (or not finding it) was often stressful as I tried to balance it with homework, athletics and friends. Looking back, it probably was too much to ask of a teenager, especially one who had some ability, but was certainly not talented enough to pursue a career in music.
Playing as an Adult
As a young adult, I didn’t play much. Fortunately, I was able to get a beautiful piano in my 30s. I played and even resumed lessons for a while from an elderly, knowledgeable teacher that lived in a bungalow in Palm Desert, CA.
However, more often than not, I didn’t play regularly and felt guilty about it. Gradually, the music I used to play became too difficult for me. Recently, I tried playing easier music by sight-reading hymns. That was kind of fun. I also enjoyed learning a piece of music that my husband liked and surprising him on his birthday by playing it.
But by and large, I just didn’t, and don’t, play. This has been true for many years. So why is there a big piano sitting in my living room?
Breaking the News to my Mom
About a year ago, I mentioned to my mom that I might find a new home for my piano. She gasped with horror. How could I do that? I told her I didn’t play and didn’t really want to play either. Ever the piano teacher, she said that I just needed to start playing regularly and then I’d want to play. She had a point. If I don’t play tennis for a while, I don’t miss it. But then once I resume playing, I fall in love with it again. Maybe the same would be true with the piano. But for some reason, I never seemed to sit my butt down on the piano bench in order to find out.
A month or so later, she tentatively asked me with a pained look on her face about my piano plans. I told her I was going to keep it for a while. She looked relieved.
Moving Brings Up the Question Again
We will be moving from our home into a condo in a year. As we think about decorating it, the piano decision has resurfaced. And now that my mom has passed, the time seems right to find a home for this beautiful instrument, a place where it can be played.
I have limited free time and want to spend it doing things I feel excited to do. I want to cook, walk my dogs, do yoga, play tennis and write blot posts in my spare time. I like to shop online too! I can’t do it all. And just because I loved playing the piano 25 years ago doesn’t mean I need to continue playing today. (Right?) Most every adult I know doesn’t play a musical instrument and they seem to be doing just fine.
I’ve contacted a few non-profit musical organizations to see if they’d like the piano and so far, nobody can accept the piano. I will continue searching. I could sell it, but it would be more meaningful to give it away to the right group than to reduce it to an ordinary sales transaction. Once the piano has found its new home, I will move my desk out of its cramped area into the spacious, sunny corner of our living room where the piano now resides. I’m excited to sit there and work.
Finding a new home for my piano is bittersweet. My mom and the piano were synonomous. Her piano was her most prized possession. This has made my decision difficult and complicated.
But getting rid of something I don’t use, and then feel guilty about not using, would be freeing. If I can find a place where it can be cherished, I will feel good about that. And down the road, if I miss playing the piano, then I can find a way to get one back into my life. In the meantime, others can play, dream and express themselves on the piano that used to belong to me.