You can tell that I don’t know much about pianos because I don’t know the name of the panel on which those words are etched. It’s the one right about the keyboard. They’re the words you would see in a close-in video or picture of hands playing the middle octaves. But those are the words on the piano that now graces our living room. It’s beaten up, and it’s on big casters. There’s no bench yet, but it’s here and it’s ours.
It’s really a convoluted journey that this instrument has under taken. I only know its last three homes.
I came to know it as the piano from the youth room at the church I grew up in in Los Angeles. By the time I was in college, that church was shrinking. There were no youth, and when it comes down to it, we were fortunate to be able to field a choir for a time. So the church decided to give away some of its excess pianos. Neither I nor my parents ever played the piano, but my time in choir in high school had caused me to have musically adept friends. So it was, that the expectation that one of my friends might start noodling away at the piano at a party served as adequate justification for accepting a piano.
It was either that or “Hey, free piano…”
Well, the dream came true, and a couple of my friends tickled the ivories at a couple of parties.
That was in the early 90’s. In 1996, I moved to Seattle and met the woman of my dreams. We married in 2000, and my parents moved up in 2004. Well, in the course of going through 32 years worth of items accumulated in that house I grew up in, the question of what to do with the piano came up.
I’m not sure how we even came up with this scenario, but here it is. My parents were downsizing from a small house to a condo that was actually larger, with an extra bedroom that would serve as an office for my dad. The floor plan didn’t lend itself to an upright piano, so my parents couldn’t keep it. Alissa and I were still living the nomadic single life in a Ballard apartment, so we couldn’t take it.
Enter Jenn and Dan, two housemates with whom Alissa and I had lived for two years in community. They’ve been married a couple of years longer than us. They bought a house earlier. Their oldest son is older than Harry. The point is that they were moving into a house at the time and could use a piano. So they gave our piano a home.
That was seven years ago. Well, they’ve come into another piano, and they offered this one back to us. I honestly don’t recall whether or not that was the expectation that we’d laid out for them taking it, but it’s certainly the kind of nice thing that they would do. So we played with our floor plan and made some unconventional decisions to make space, but make space we did.
And here it is, sitting in our living room. It fits perfectly into the space, and it doesn’t even dominate the room like I had expected it to. Alissa used to play pretty well, and after printing out some open source sheet music, she made it obvious that her dormant skills are not far below the surface.
Naturally, Harry and Annie are excited, both eagerly raising their hands when asked who wanted to take piano lessons.
I can’t help but wonder at how this piano came to us, and how it has managed to come back to us, just as we have kids at the right age to learn to play.
So what’s next? Some tuning, wood refinishing, and the search for a piano bench, a metronome, and a piano light. After that , who knows?