Thursday, February 25, 2016

House Full of Music: Piano Edition

Having a piano in our home has been an enormous blessing. I know it isn't possible for everyone–we rented for 2 years in an upstairs Victorian apartment that one could not physically bring a piano into even if they wanted to–but I am glad we can have one.

Ours is a heavily used spinet piano. People with opinions disagree about which pianos are 'good enough' to have in the home. For example, there's a camp that believes digital pianos are superior to anything but the best grand pianos, so one shouldn't settle for a spinet. Fortunately for us, though, we were given this piano and it was brought into our house by a man who tunes pianos for a living. Not just one or two pianos–lots of pianos. All over. He had been tuning this one for friends for years and brought it to us–they no longer had space for it–as a solid, serviceable instrument that he believed would serve us well. Then he tuned it, and has done regularly. 

I had never seen a proper piano tuning and I was blown away. It was one of the more beautiful things I've ever witnessed, and I boast that I have seen a lot of beauty in my life. Surely top 100. While tuning, he told me that while there is a big difference between our spinet and fine pianos of the world, he would rather play on a piano he had tuned–any piano he had tuned– than the best and most valuable instruments out there. In short, the best piano to own is one you will keep tuned. That may sound like self service–after all, he is a piano tuner–but it has held true for us. The sound of a well-tuned piano is different in every way. (Ours needs a tune up right now!)

I don't play, and neither does Karl. None of our kids are piano prodigies. Don't let those things keep you from having music in your house. (I say, to myself.) Hire a teacher who can come to your house if you can, fill it with tinkering sounds of music. (I say, to myself.) We have never regretted the time and money we put into music for these kids. 

Tristan and Kassiopeia both took lessons. The younger kids have learned a bit from them. We had a great teacher who came here for a couple of years, then they took a break. (I am not and won't ever be that mom who makes kids practice, or keeps them in a class they don't like.) Tristan spends a lot of time with the piano still and is looking to resume lessons soon. He has learned a few songs from you tube tutorials during his break from lessons. The younger boys might ask for lessons someday. 

A little spinet doesn't take up much space. You can put things on it, like christmas presents and stuff you don't want the baby to reach. (I recommend you not put pencils on it. We have fished more than our share from the inner parts of the piano!) It's fun to have when we have guests. Invariably someone will sit down to play.

I suddenly feel the need to balance my piano-loving-joy with something more negative, but I can't think of anything. Well, tuning can be expensive. There's that. I do occasionally have to raise my voice to get people to stop playing, but I have to do that with everything. 

What am I hoping for? I'm obviously not pushing these kids to be great pianists. I believe that it is my job to facilitate their learning. That means I make it easier. Learning to make music is a lot easier when there are musical instruments around. No pressure–just some things to play around with. If they want lessons, I make it happen to my ability. If they want to quit, I let that happen. 

The benefits are many, even in the present. I love having music in my life. The kids love having a way to make it.  We as parents selfishly bask in the Austenesque sound, listening to the children play made-up songs together. They don't do it for us, but we love it just the same. 
Just getting started with the tuning. 

Kassiopeia and weeks-old Georgiana.

Growing up with music. 

Piano buddies!

Kassiopeia & Tristan 

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