Friday, March 14, 2008
I have always been in-
trigued by the im=
portant role random chance plays in one's life. One such nice chance event that happened in my life was that when I was 7 my parents had bought their first home, a small row house in Allentown, Pa. The previous owner had left an upright piano.*
No immediate relatives in my family were particularly musical, but I showed an interest, picking out tunes. At the start of the next school year, I was sent over to the convent after school one day a week for lessons. We moved to Virginia the next year, and that piano moved with us and I still have it today. My favorite piano teacher was Mr. Donaher, who taught me from age 8 1/2 to 11. Mr. D. was as blind as a bat, but a terrific teacher. I think lessons cost all of a buck fifty for about 45 minutes. In addition to the standard John Thompson series, he encouraged playing "other things" that took the student's interest. Right when I was first learning to play, the Sound of Music had come out, and I started with easy versions of same. That sparked a life long interest in musical theatre for me.
My third teacher, whom I'd acquired after we moved to New Hampshire wasn't bad (a sister who taught at our parochial school) - but she would have been better for me when I was older, say 13-15 instead of 11-12. She was too Nazi like about fingering, which drove me nuts and it kind of sucked the fun out of playing. So I stopped lessons, but I always continued to play. I'm rusty now, but I'm going to start playing more, damn the carpal tunnel but I can suck it up. I learned enough and played for fun enough to pretty much be able to play any standard sheet music and my sight reading isn't bad. (What I was never good at was transposing music on sight.)
I often wonder if I would have come to the musical theatre interest via another route had we NOT had the piano. I like to think it was "meant to be."
*This particular piano is at least 100 years old and was made by the Milton Piano Company of New York. "Milton pianos were manufactured from 1892 until 1907 by the Milton Piano Company at 626-630 West 51st St., New York City. Milton pianos and player-pianos were handcrafted, beautiful instruments, designed for a class of discriminating music lovers." - from bluebookofpianos