There is a piano in our house. It’s the one my parents purchased brand new when our old upright died of a warped soundboard. It’s the instrument that helped me struggle through lessons. It’s the piano that I hated to practice on and had its keys pounded in frustration at times or played joyfully if the song pleased me.
Pianos aren’t nearly as popular today as they were in previous generations or even when I was a child taking lessons back in the ‘60s. Kids are now more likely to play electronic keyboards that are much less expensive, take up less real estate inside the home and offer a multitude of musical voices from a harpsichord to a violin, that help keep kids engaged.
When the ancient Miss Laking taught my lessons in the parlor of the old house that she shared with several cats, there were fewer options for extra-curricular pursuits. The piano keyboard was the only keyboard in our home. Time spent with computer keyboards and other electronic devices has pushed music lessons far down the scale of preferred activities for kids.
Instead of traditional piano lessons, my boys were exposed to music in a much more enjoyable music program with other kids and their parents involved in learning together. Practice was still a challenge but no matter how reluctantly, they benefitted from a music education.
My old piano is neglected these days. Since our piano tuner died several years ago, I haven’t bothered to find a replacement. It serves as a place to display framed graduation photos and a few decorative items. I play it occasionally when I need help learning a song my choir is rehearsing.
I’m considering painting it a glossy white to give it a new life beyond the boring brown wood tone that makes it appear even more outdated that its diminished role in our household. Selling it is another consideration but the idea makes me feel like we’re breaking up and I do dream of having time to renew our relationship once I retire. I’ve heard piano practice can stave off mental decline.
Chances are your child isn’t learning to play a musical instrument. If you do happen to be on that musical journey, check out the araticle "Maintaining harmony with young musicians" for some helpful tips for getting your child to practice. You’ll also relate to “Playing From the Heart”, reviewed in On the Bookshelf.
Maybe a coat of paint and a tuning will give me a change of heart.