I am grateful for a really good piano.
Most people won’t have a clue what I am describing. There are five pianos in my past and present that have made me feel like I could play practically anything, and it was and is a tiny piece of heaven to sit at their keyboard and play.
The first one was an old upright with yellowing ivory keys, the edges of some no longer smooth but worn and chipped. Sneakers the cat sat on top of it, curled around the 8×10 pictures of my brothers and sister, and sometimes in the dark of night, that cat would decide it was time to walk the keys and wake the world. It was my first piano and was always decorated with John Thompson and Note Spellers and sheet music for recital practice. My sister and I played “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” on that piano.
I learned Fountain in the Rain, my favorite recital piece ever, on that piano. That piano earned me the right to take lessons at age 4 with my favorite Aunt Patsy and it got me through the rough years with the cranky and mean Mrs. Good who wasn’t very good. It was a partner to the organ that sat across the room, Angela’s fingers and feet making electronic music, and Rhonda on the old upright, thrilling our Mom with duets from matching books.
The next piano was a beautiful and sturdy Yamaha studio piano that Dad and Mom bought when we made the move to Hutchinson. It was brand new and even had that soft burgundy felt cloth that we were so careful to use and cover those keys.
This piano got me through high school, the years I played for the Chorale at Central Christian, the years I spent with Mrs. Schubert and grossly exaggerated my practice time for lessons each week, the concerto contests I participated in, the United Methodist youth choir I accompanied, the cassette tapes Mom and I made of her singing and me playing. It eventually moved with me when I was married and the girls came along, and it became my piano to teach other littles how to play, my piano to accompany my two little girls as they sang through their growing up years, my piano to practice for church offertories and major pieces for contests and recitals, and my piano to create music programs when I taught school.
A memorable piano is the one that sat in the sanctuary at the Mennonite Brethren church we attended. It had one of the best touches ever. I loved the “action” of those keys, not too heavy, played with ease, so that 16th notes and fast runs were not difficult. I felt like I could just let loose and be free. Every once in a while, I will find a rare piano that just allows me to create, and this was one that talked to me and told me with its touch, “Just make music. Sing with your fingers.” It was easy to have an open mind to whatever the Holy Spirit wanted to speak, walk up to the piano during the offertory prayer not knowing what was going to come out, and begin playing. I would get lost in the moments, praying and worshiping through the music that came from my hands.
There is another piano just like that one, although a different color and name. It sits in the rehearsal hall at church and I am privileged to play it once a week. One of these days, I will go and spend time with it, all by myself, and just be. Just create. Just worship. It is an instrument that I am growing to love very much, and when I have the opportunity to sit at its keys, I feel like I can “sing” again and make the music that is down deep. There is just something about the touch, the action, the feel, that allows me to open up and create.
When life fell apart and I was at my lowest, I borrowed time and a piano across the street at a church during my lunch hours. I went months and months without being able to play, my piano gone. I felt like my tears couldn’t release, because the music was gone. Sam hadn’t experienced my lifetime of piano, but he knew. He knew that a piece of me was missing. And so he surprised me with the gift of another. It doesn’t have quite the easy touch and action freedom as others – it needs many hours of music to loosen the heaviness – but this piano has been my medication, my crutch, and a vital piece of healing to this wounded heart.
Most won’t understand. It doesn’t matter though. It’s not about most. It’s about being grateful. And I am grateful for this “thing” that God put inside me. This “thing” that makes me want to play. This “thing” that allows me to worship and pray without words.
I am grateful for these Masterpiece instruments that have graced my life.
And I am grateful today, that God gave me such a gift.