the sound of music

piano2
I’ve been walking past the piano since I was, well, able to walk. After 14 hours in the car from Texas to Illinois, we would pull on to Fenwood Drive somewhere between 5 and 6am. The glowing porch light encouraged us to sneak through the front door, past the music maker, and down the hall to “our” bedroom and fall asleep until the smell of breakfast would wake us up midmorning. It is my aunt and uncle’s house. The half-way point to Pennsylvania, and- now- Michigan. It is where we stopped and stayed for countless ARMY moves in-between assignments, boat rides down the Mississippi, and parents-only motocross weekends at Duquesne raceway. Even now, it is as familiar as home.

piano3

The piano is a beast. Specifically, a 1929 Gulbransen-Dickenson player-piano of a beast. My brother and cousin and I would spend afternoons pumping the pedals to fill the lines with air and make Frosty the Snowman play. We imagined we were actually that good… that tempo matched keys matched precision, and we could play anything- as long as it was Frosty. Or we’d move the toggles another way and block off the top of the keys. Or skip the automatic magic altogether and just… play.

We were always allowed to play the piano. 

My aunt never called it “playing on” the piano. She gave our little hearts grown-up sized credit. Whether we had the help of the Word Roll or we chose to go it alone, the piano was allowed to be used.

“Noise,” she told me once after a particularly rough concert by my brother, “is relative. Noise is just a combination of notes you don’t prefer. It’s music to someone, Kate.”

piano1

For this rule-follower, it was a revolutionary idea. I am classically trained; improv does not come naturally. Boundaries were there to stand upon and embrace. I still have trouble with jazz. I do.

Was is truly possible that the definition was so wide? That it was a rainbow of colors and options instead of the implied black and white simplicity of the keys? Could my brother and I both be right? At the same time?

I forgot about that piano until this weekend when my children discovered it for the first time.

Sit down, I said. 

You can play.

You can.

piano4

Whatever you play, it will be music.

I learned that here.

Lord, help me remember it everywhere else.

Advertisements

About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

6 responses to “the sound of music

talk to me

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: