Bubble Wrap Boa

One day when it was slow at the mall, I was sitting at the piano playing and happened to notice my friend, Kate in the gift department. I’ve always liked her, she has a great attitude, she always has a funny story to share and Kate loves music. I always knew she paid attention to my songs because I could hear her softly singing or humming to most everything I played and she really has a great voice. Anyway, I decided to play some of her favorite songs including “Hey Big Spender” and “The Stripper”.  So I’m sitting there playing my heart out when I look up and see her doing a not so innocent dance to “The Stripper” in center court, wearing and working a boa that she constructed out of the bubble wrap she was using to wrap gifts in!

Now, I think people purposely try to mess me up while I play, like asking me questions, expecting that I can answer and carry on a conversation with them while not missing a beat. Or trying to make me laugh, doing crazy things while wearing bubble wrap. Well, this lady has all the moves and is doing everything she can do to make me crack up and its working! She was absolutely hilarious, I really could not keep playing anymore, but just sat there on the bench while her and I had a good laugh. We still talk about that to this day! If you’re wondering if that incident drew a crowd, no…..it was a VERY slow day and no one but she and I knew what had happened.

Yes, Kate loves to dance. Another time I was playing a song called “Misirlou” which has an Arabic or Egyptian feel to it. Something colorful caught my eye and I looked up and there was Kate, who had taken a brightly colored scarf from accessories and was dancing around like an Egyptian or like the Queen of Sheba in center court! She makes me laugh on a regular basis doing little impromptu dances at unexpected times. Kate is definitely a bright spot at the Mall!


Crazy Christmas March

This reminds me of another incident where the music takes over and a person can’t help but get into the beat.  It was at the beginning of Christmas season and the store always uses a lot of empty boxes that were wrapped as Christmas presents for decking the halls. One of the associates was carrying a load of them in her arms….I would guess there were ten of them stacked on top of each other according to size, big on bottom and small on top. They were stacked so high that she couldn’t see over top of them. She had to hold them to the side so she could see. Luckily, they weren’t heavy because they were empty. So there I am playing the piano, I don’t remember what I was playing, only that it had a heavy March like beat. I can hear her heels clicking as she walked, coming up from behind me. Each click of her heel was with the beat of the music. (I knew by the sound of her heels who it was, Mary, a friend of mine.) Of course to be ornery, I decided to speed up the music. Her pace quickens to keep up with the beat. I go a little faster. She walks a little faster. By the time I can see her, her stomping is loud and fast, she’s lifting up her knees high, doing a March to the beat. She’s doing this to make me laugh and its working. I’m cracking up laughing at her and she’s looking at me laughing and marching, people are staring, just as I don’t think it could possibly get any more funny, all the boxes…yes all ten of them came crashing down! It was so funny and everyone who stopped to stare was cracking up too! Mary quickly regained her composure, picked up all the boxes, brushed herself off and went on her way.

Hmmm……I’m now reminded of another funny dance story from behind the grand piano that involves bubble wrap. I think I’ll save that for next time.


Mall Chicken Dance in Prom Attire

I was playing at the mall one evening in the spring when I looked up from the piano and noticed six young ladies approaching with gorgeous gowns on. I thought of course…it must be prom. Sure enough six dashing young men in tuxedos followed. I don’t remember at the time what song I was playing, but after some whispering back and forth, the girls came over and asked me if I knew the Chicken Dance. I said I did and began playing it for them, while these six couples decked out for prom began dancing to the beat of the Chicken Dance right there in Center Court. People began to gather around, of course clapping with them. It was hilarious to watch them acting so goofy, in their proper attire, in the middle of the store, I could hardly keep playing! After they were finished, the crowd clapped, the guys straightened their ties; the girls smoothed their dresses and went on their way!

More dance stories to follow!


Who is Rearranging My Furniture?!

Ah yes, the “Holding Pen”. What in the world goes on in that room? Little Ashley walks to her lesson every Wednesday right after school. (My home is only 2 blocks from the elementary school.) She is my first lesson of the day. Her mother works until 5:00, so Ashley stays in the “Holding Pen” after her lesson until her mother picks her up. Now, I have things for the kids to do while they wait, there is a TV to watch, there are colors and books, etc. They can also do their music theory or their homework, but Ashley gets bored.  

At first I notice only subtle changes in the room. There were 2 large bookcases filled with books and knick knacks, an accent table, an end table, a couch, a chair and a cabinet that held the TV. Oh yes, and there was a shelving unit that hang on the wall, full of knick knacks as well. As I mentioned before, this is a Victorian home and since I love decorating almost as much as I love piano, I had the room completely decked out in Victorian attire.

So, one evening I was closing the door after my last student left, when I noticed a cherub that I had sitting on a shelf was moved over to a bookcase. I picked it up to put it back when I noticed a candlestick that I had on the bookcase was missing. Looking around the room I found it sitting on the TV cabinet, so I moved everything back and didn’t give it another thought until the same day next week.

The following Wednesday arrives, little Ashley comes right after school, we have our half hour lesson and then she goes to the “holding pen” to wait for an hour or so until her mother gets off of work. I teach 6 or 7 other students after her and once the last lesson is finished, I again walk my student to the door. This time I noticed it right away. All the pillows on the couch and chair were stacked up in the corner and the afghan neatly folded on top of the pillows.  There were other knick knacks moved along with various books and candle sticks in unusual places.  I put everything back the way it was supposed to be and thought I would have a chat with my Wednesday piano students.

So the next week arrives and I begin to ask all my students one by one as they came to their lessons. Everyone denied moving my things around.  As it was in the two previous weeks, sure enough, my things were all moved around and this time furniture was moved too.

Usually, while I was teaching, I didn’t normally go into the family room, or the “holding pen” to fetch my next student. I would either call them in or tell the student that was leaving to send the next one in. The next week I would personally fetch each child to check the room for rearrangement. Sure enough, the following week little Ashley was caught in the act. When I asked her why she was moving my things around, she simply replied, I like your things Shannon and I think they look better the way that I arrange them. I told her I liked them the way they are and to please not touch them anymore and so she stopped. Ashley did not take lessons very long, maybe a year or more. This has been a few years ago and Ashley is a young woman now. I wonder if she chose decorating as her career.


What Happened to My Donkey Tail?!

I used to live in a beautiful old Victorian home that had a parlor. That room is where my piano sat and where I taught lessons. When my students arrived, they were to enter quietly and wait in a room named the family room, my husband called it the holding pen. At that time I was teaching 40 students every week and some of them would hang out in the “holding pen” for sometimes an hour or so before their lesson or stay after thier lesson until a parent could pick them up. The parlor was on the other side of the house from the “holding pen” and I could not see what was going on in that room while I was teaching a lesson. (I often wished I had a hidden camera!) I had this prized plant that takes forever to grow called a burro’s tail or a donkey’s tail (Sedum morganianum) and I began to notice that every Tuesday after lessons, that plant would have all the little cylindrical leaves stripped from one of the long stems of the plant and there would be a pile of them on the floor. I asked all of my students about this strange phenomenon and of course no one had a clue what was happening to my plant! Sure enough, this went on for weeks until my prized plant had no leaves left and eventually died.


Many Lessons and Many Hours of Practice.

People ask me…”So, if I started lessons now, just how long will it take for me to be good at it?” I tell them, it all depends on you. How determined you are, how much time you want to devote to practice, how serious you are. All of these factors determine if a person will be successful. Most people cannot fathom just how long it takes to master it. I am still trying to master it! You never stop learning and never stop improving unless you stop playing and practicing.

Some ask me if I think it’s easier or harder for an adult to learn to play piano. I think there are advantages to both. Adults have greater comprehension than children and they can learn faster. But, children have a greater finger dexterity than adults. Adult fingers are not as limber and that can be a problem. With adults, you know they want to be there (at their lesson), with kids, it might be the parent that is forcing them. I do however think that the parent plays a huge role in getting the kids to practice, they need that guidance. If a child has a choice, of course they would rather be playing video games or whatever fun things there are to do these days. But there is a fine line of forcing the child to practice and take lessons if they absolutely hate it.


A Song Stirs a Memory

Yesterday, while sitting behind the grand piano I was playing a song someone requested by the Everly Brothers, All I Have to Do is Dream. For those of you who don’t know that song, you can view it on You Tube by clicking here. 

Anyway, the fellow that requested it was standing there enjoying the music when a lady slowed down as she was walking by, listening to the music. She then stopped and stood there listening, a distance away from me. I looked up at her to smile and she was wiping tears from her eyes. As I finished the song, she walked up to me and said that it was beautiful and she told me that “All I Have to Do is Dream” was her and her late husband’s ‘song’. She told me that her husband died in 1987 and that whenever she hears that song, it reminds her of him. She was so sweet and beautiful. She thanked me and went on her way.

If I had a dime for every time someone has approached me to say that a song that I had just played reminded them of someone or a special time in their life, I would be a rich woman. Just as a certain smell can take you back to a moment in time, a certain song can do the same.


How Long Have You Been Playing Piano?

People ask me all the time…”So, how long have you been playing piano?” I used to answer and tell them in years, but now that I’m older and I think of just exactly how MANY years I’ve been playing, (scary thought) I now just say, I started lessons when I was seven. Sometimes if I’m feeling kinda sassy that day, I’ll look down at my watch and say since noon today, or since six o’clock tonight or whenever it was that I began my gig that day.