Move Over Liberace!


I can’t remember when we got the piano. It was an old upright. The sort you might see in a pub back in the fifties. I’ve no idea where it came from either or why we got it. Mother had played as a child apparently but had never given me the impression that it was something that was missing in her life that needed replacing.

Anyway, we got this piano. I was involved in music through school. I sang in the choir & played the recorder so I could read music. I remember not going near the piano. I think I can remember Mother telling me to stay away but that’s not a clear memory. For some reason, one holiday when everyone was out I decided that I wanted to play the piano. It was easy after all. You saw people on the TV all the time just running their fingers across the keys.

I had a go but of course it didn’t take long for me to realise that I didn’t know which musical note applied to which key. If only I could see that, I’d be off. So, with a yellow permanent marker in hand, I found middle ‘C’ & wrote the letters on the white keys. At this early point of my piano playing career, the black notes were not of concern!

I could ask you to write the paragraph entitled ‘Mother came home and…’ I truly don’t remember much other than her being very cross. I never went near the piano again!

Fast forward 40 years to my retirement. I had 6 months planning time between the decision to leave & actually going. People were envious & asked what I was going to do with my time. I truly didn’t know. I had spent the last 13 years concentrating on my headship. Somehow there never seemed enough justifiable time to spend on ‘me’ things. School was my life & I was totally immersed in it. However, the one thing I was certain of- I was going to learn to play the piano so move over Liberace!

To help get me started, we bought a keyboard before I retired. It is a very fine one! I have books as well – teach-yourself & music you love – type books. I had a go. I really thought that I would be able to slot straight into it. A friend’s husband is a pianist & he offered to come & give me some lessons. Suddenly I was back in the world of school. Suddenly I was faced with not being the teacher but the learner. Suddenly I heaped truck-fulls of pressure on myself. After all, this was something I said I was going to do. There would be an expectation out there that I would be a pianist!

Well, it all ended in tears & I had to put the key board away where I couldn’t see it. It turned out that this was all part of an anxious period triggered by my retirement which I will leave for another post. Suffice to say the piano is still waiting for me to return. I was tempted to get the old yellow marker out again (!) but will wait until my emotional psyche is ready. So…playing the piano is a skill I INTEND to learn!

Perhaps I should have learnt as a child? would it have made any difference? Did you learn & still play?

This post has been written for Week #20 of Josie’s Writing Workshop Prompt 3 – What skill would you love to learn?


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  • Hope you do learn. I’ve a piano, got a new one after the birth of my daughter 5 yrs ago. Got lessons for a term or two then but unfortunately don’t have time for it now. Play occasionally now. have a look at mario ajero’s podcast (google it) he does online piano lessons!!

  • I played as a child and I wish I hadn’t stopped! In fact a few years ago my mother bought me a piano as a surprise (long story) and I’ve started playing again. My son is learning too.

    I really don’t think it’s too late to pick it up. My friend is having lessons at the moment and she’s loving it.

    Lovely story.

  • Oh please continue. Maybe it will give me the incentive to continue too. OH bought me an upright for my 40th (8 years ago!), as I had said, same as you, I really wanted to learn. He pre-paid for 5 lessons, and they were such hard, hard work.

    • I know I should have lessons to get me started but I know I will put pressure on myself once I have them. Bit of a vicious circle but when the time is right….

  • Oh I feel your pain! My husband, my children…they can play. Me? No! Do get lessons and enjoy being the learner! I just learnt to knit and I still can’t quite believe that I can do it because I had tried before and failed! I think teachers (I’m one too remember) make bad pupils just as nurses make bad patients!

  • Jomica

    I had piano lessons and sang in a choir from a very early age, but I had to sell my piano when we moved into a house too small for it. If I could afford one now it would be at the top of my list but, what with university fees, etc, I think it will have to wait for my retirement.

    When I hear my teenage musician playing his clarinet and sax, I feel that I could really have a feel for the sax and I had intended to learn – until, that is, I started having problems with my neck and shoulder and now, regrettably, it doesn’t seem such a good idea after all. Have you felt the weight of an alto sax round your neck?

    My dad tried to learn piano in his 50s. He sings beautifully, but can’t read music. It became to stressful and had to end. We both started with a book called “Gibbedy-F and A C E”, and I have fond memories of that.

  • We also had an old 50’s upright piano when I was little but I had lessons from the age of 8. I now have my own piano and I adore it. I am very protective of it – Amy has lessons so she is allowed to play it!

    I have tagged you in my new meme – created by me!! Don’t bother if you’d rather not, it’s just a bit of fun!!

    CJ xx

  • Oh please, please, please get lessons! PLEASE?! I bet you could find a lovely teacher who was really patient with you.

    I learnt as a child and then had to pack away my piano when we didn’t have room in my little house and now I’m counting down the days till we move and I can get it out again and see how much I’ve forgotten.

    I tend to think musical ability is quite instinctive. Maybe you won’t be giving Liberace a run for his money but not everyone that plays piano needs to be a pianist! Why not just do it for the fun, and so you don’t need to spend the rest of your life wishing you had. I bet you could pick up a few simple tunes with the right help and I KNOW how wonderful it would make you feel.

    Do it!!! x

  • Oh I know this feeling, I have always wanted to crochet, so finally went on a cource last week, well I was all fingers and thumbs and a great big fat FAILURE

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