When my mother died, she left a little money for me and I immediately bought a Yamaha 1018 digital with actual grand piano tones.
At first, I simply recovered my repertoire of fifty+ classical tunes I loved to play, including Claire de Lune, Moonlight Sonata, Malaguena, and various other pieces from Bach, Schumann, Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin (my favorites).
I added books of inspirational music because I played for churches. I already had music of tunes I’d grown up with—Elvis, Peter, Paul, & Mary, and various Country Western sons and the old stuff a cousin had given me as a child, his collection of hits from the 40s. I even had sheets for Clarence Pine-top Smith’s original Boogie Woogie that I had played on a grand piano in a sorority house who worked there, who’d come out and dance every single time I played.
It wasn’t long before I accepted the challenge; “You have a natural talent, Pam, if you’d practice more, you could…”
So I did: five hours a day, five days a week, for one month. Did it make that much difference?
Oh, yeah! I could play anything with dots (music) but I had never learned improvisation so I was limited to how much printed music I wanted to learn, and to even maintain my enormous repertoire—four notebooks, twelve books, and a pile of sheet music—required constant practice.
When the siren call of another passion (writing) beckoned me, I played less and less until I didn’t play at all.
The piano waited patiently.
I did not respond.
Finally, I realized that I was never again going to spend one hour much less five hours a day practicing, and that simply playing my repertoire wasn’t enough to keep me interested. Because I had learned so much about loss and letting go, I figured that now was the time to let this one go, too.
I quickly searched for Yamaha digital pianos in the 101 series to come up with a price, then snapped a photo of my beautiful piano and posted it on Craig’s List for $725, the average of all piano prices I found. Almost immediately, I got several calls from interested buyers. I told one who phoned, “Better do it tomorrow.”
That night, I went to the music store where I’d bought the piano to get some “Lizard Spit” and a 100% cotton microfiber cloth to clean and polish it for the new owner. I asked the guy who sold it to me to estimate the current value. He said, “You can ask between $950-1100.”
If only I’d gone there instead of searching online for the price!
On the drive home I was wondering why I’d want to polish a piano I’d just sold for at least $250 less than the lowest estimate of its worth. I would not. Instead, I’d return that stuff after they got their piano.
By the next morning, I was sitting quietly, asking God, “Please help me feel good about my mistake. Help me feel good about letting go of my piano. Please help me feel good about this transaction.”
Moments later, she phoned, “We’re here, pulling into your driveway.”
I put on my sunglasses and went downstairs to meet them. The woman was already reaching her hand out with a bright “Hello!” Her husband was walking around the vehicle with a tiny infant in his arms, followed by a young girl, maybe nine or ten years old. (Sure, Bring your little family.)
When we got inside, I asked if they wanted to play the piano but they declined, asking if I would. I had played last night (first time in years!) so I picked up samples of different types of music, starting with one I used to play in church—“Interlude II” from Lord Be Glorified, the same tune I had played with Sophie (my long-hair Siamese cat ) on my lap the day she died. (I was feeling shitty. I loved that cat!)
The little girl moved closer.
I played excerpts from Moonlight Sonata, Blue Moon, Chopin’s powerful Etude Op.10, and ended with the Boogie Woogie as I had done every time I’d sat at a piano for over thirty years.
I turned to the girl and said, “But you don’t start there. No one does. You start where you are. I started with Chopsticks and asked if she knew it. She didn’t, but her mom did and we played it for her.
The mother gave me seven one-hundred dollar bills, our agreed-upon price, and then she helped her husband carry the piano down the stairs. I followed, telling them how many more steps, and to make sure they did it right.
They lifted her (my piano), slid her gently into the back of their Suburban, and he put things on either side to keep her from sliding when the car turned and draped a blanket over her side facing the tailgate.
I told them that I could tell they were going to take good care of her.
When he left to collect his daughters, the mom told me about her little girl, the one for whom they bought the piano.
She had been born with cancer…had missed so much school…was being home-schooled, and…
I gave them all hugs and said “Goodbye, sweet family.”
Till next time,
Please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows. ~Tzaddi