Goodbye, old piano

We had a Janssen console piano in our house. My two sisters and I all took piano lessons, first from Mrs. Fanning, then from Mrs. Bowser. I lasted longer than my older sister, who had other interests. Imagine three girls all having to practice for at least thirty minutes each day! As much as I loved playing, and tried hard to memorize important pieces, someone was always better – Lili Morgan, Donna Leco. I chastised myself for not being good enough.

Similar to the one we had in our house

In college, I thought about majoring in music until I heard Rosemary Murray play “Rhapsody in Blue.” I almost cried, she was so good. And so much better than I was. I thought I could never be a music major next to Rose, so I switched to English (no regrets). When I discovered musical theatre, I jumped in (backstage), but had to wait for Tom Joaquin to graduate before I had a shot at being the rehearsal and performance pianist. I knew I had perhaps a fraction of the talent Tom possessed, and worked hard to be the best I could be. Senior year was “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” After college, I stuck around, and played for “Working” and “Evita.” I had the old Janssen in my Benefit Street apartment, until I moved to Washington, DC, and sold it to Rhode Island College.

I didn’t have a piano for a long time after that; there was never enough money or space, or there were simply too many stairs. In 2000, my husband bought me a gorgeous baby grand piano, a little smaller than usual to fit in our already small house. But what a beautiful piano!

Similar to the one we had in our house

I played it when I could, usually when I was alone, so no one would hear all my mistakes. Five years later, we decided to sell the house and move to a condo. The first time our realtor stepped into the living room, she pointed to the piano and said, “That has to go. It’s too big, it dominates the room.” There was nowhere else to put it. So we called the place where we’d bought it and explained the situation. They offered to take it in trade and gave us a Baldwin Pianovelle (yes!), a digital piano.

the Baldwin Pianovelle

I’ll admit, I had a hard time adjusting to the “one-man-band” in this piano. I’ve played it, and it was fun to try certain pieces on the different instruments within the piano. And the accompaniments (Bossa Nova! Swing!) made for enjoyable rainy afternoons. But I don’t play it anymore. I just don’t have the time.

So, it’s for sale. I have no idea what it’s worth, and I can’t move it. If you want it, make me an offer. And bring a couple of strong young men to move it. Goodbye, old piano. xxx

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8 Comments

Hi Martha,
A few years ago I was a Music Teacher and we had annual awards. One of my students was good on recorder, Piano ,Guitar and composition but when we came to the awards she was always second best in each category. I took her on one side to explain that unfortunately she was a good all rounder but sadly did not achieve top marks in any category. I was expecting a stroppy teenager response and had braced myself. To my surprise her face lit up and said ‘It’s ok Sir, don’t worry about it , The reward is to be able to play”. 12 months later we created a new trophy for best all rounder and you can guess who won.That has stayed with me for the rest of my teaching days and whether you play at PC or Berkley doesn’t matter. It is being able to play at all.

Smashing up a Piano must be a different experience than allowing it to sail into the sunset with a new home. Here is my tribute to my old Old Piano

Great post Martha! I was actually in the audience listening to you play the music for Evita at PC! I was as impressed at that time as I am now with your decision to write!

My mom had a piano when they were growing up.

Wonderful post, Martha – reading it makes me happy that you switched your major to English, for we are all the beneficiaries! Still, I bet you were a better pianist than you are letting on. Well done!

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