Tag Archives: piano lessons

Distractions: Hearing Aids, Cell Phones, Children and Chocolate

I was at the piano one day recently, playing for shoppers, taking requests, stopping to visit with folks between songs. A couple of the regulars stopped by to listen when it happened again.

Ring, Ring, RING! You guessed it; I’m in the middle of a song when somebody’s cell phone rings. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind that people have their cell phones on and ready to take a call while hanging around the piano. It’s not like I’m performing a concert, just leisurely playing people’s requests. However, if someone does have a call, it would be nice if they would leave the area while they take the call.  (There are some that stay near the piano and try to talk over the music, now that is distracting!)

So, anyway, I’m in the middle of playing a song when a man’s cell phone begins to ring. It rings four times and he’s not answering it. (It is not the first time this has happened, it actually happens all the time!) He doesn’t hear his phone ringing, but I do! So I turn to him on the fourth ring, as my hands continuing to play and tell him kindly that his phone is ringing. He says, “What? Really? You can hear that? I didn’t hear it!” Looking embarrassed, he walks away while he takes his call.

This man doesn’t hear his phone ring because he tells me that he turns down his hearing aid while listening to me play. I have had others tell me they do the same because if their volume is too high, it distorts the music. Actually there are several regulars that I have to let them know when their phone is ringing! I tell them they should set it to vibrate!

I began writing this new post a few weeks ago, but have been too busy to finish and post it. Since I started this new post, cell phones ringing at the piano has now become an epidemic. It has been happening a lot lately and now, just yesterday, a new visitor stopped by the piano and made a request. HIS cell phone began ringing a VERY loud ring while I was playing his request. He didn’t hear it and so I turned to him as I played and told him that his phone was ringing. He took it out of his pocket and said, “Wow, you must have good hearing!”  Hmmm……..I guess I do have great hearing!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And speaking of distractions, the other day, a couple of brothers about 3 and 4 years old came running up to the piano, with sticky chocolate fingers and started banging on the bass clef keys, while I’m in the middle of playing a song. I could not see any parent around at first. I abruptly stopped my song when I looked down and saw the chocolate all over the keys. (At first I wasn’t sure it was chocolate, if you know what I mean!)  I asked the boys, “Where are your parents?”  They answered by banging louder on the keys. I stood up and looked around and saw their mother walking slowly toward the piano.  She said in a nonchalant tone, “Now boys, you shouldn’t be doing that,” as she browsed a rack of clothing. By then the boys had moved all over the keyboard with their sticky, chocolaty fingers.

One of my most favorite parts of playing the piano for the public is when children come by. I love seeing their little faces light up when I play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or the Itsy Bitsy Spider. Their curiosity and interest of watching my fingers as they hear the music is priceless, especially if it is the very first time they heard and saw a piano. But these boys were not interested in listening to me, only making their OWN music!

The people that were sitting listening to my music were rather surprised that the mother was so lax with her children and actually, so was I! I wondered if this mother would stop her children if they tried climbing on the top of the piano. Before they had a chance, she abruptly said “Let’s Go!”  And off they went. So I got a cloth and began cleaning the keys.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

While I was cleaning the keys I looked up and noticed the sweetest little face watching me. She was about 5 or 6 years old. When I smiled at her and she timidly approached me and asked what I was doing.  I told her that I was cleaning chocolate off of the piano keys. She asked me if I would play a song for her when I finished cleaning. I of course told her I would. When I asked her what she would like me to play, she said “Jesus Loves Me. “

As I played, she sang with a pure, sweet voice:

Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to him belong
They are weak but he is strong.

Yes Jesus loves me
Oh, yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me for the Bible tells me so.

She knew all the words and sang it beautifully! When she finished, I clapped for her and asked if she knew the second verse. She said she did not. So I sang it to her:

I love Jesus, does he know?
Have I ever told Him so?
Jesus loves to hear me say
That I love him every day.

Yes, I love Jesus
Yes, I love Jesus
Yes, I love Jesus
In prayer I’ll tell him so!

And with that, off she ran to her mother who by now was standing close by, watching us with a smile on her face. I told her what a darling her daughter was and she had to agree!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I sum this all up by saying,
“Time spent at the piano is always time well spent!”
Yes there are distractions, just as there are in life.
Some notes are sour, some are sweet, but they both make a melody.
Some people are sour, some are sweet, but they both make up life!


A Dentist and His Dream

Today, a dentist happened by the piano while his wife shopped. He sat down to listen and then began asking me questions such as how old I was when I started playing, if I enjoyed my job, if I taught lessons and other questions about my music.

He told me that his son and daughter were both taking piano lessons. He said his son just graduated from High School and was going to attend an out of state college in the fall and how he was going to miss his son’s everyday piano playing.  He also shared that he himself had always dreamed of learning, but never had the opportunity to take lessons as a child. I told him, “It’s never too late to learn, you have the opportunity now and you should begin lessons right away! If this is what you truly want, with determination and practice, you will learn!”

He then told me that he had been in a previous accident and held up his right hand for me to see. His hand was missing two fingers; the top two knuckles were missing on his index and middle finger.  He had about an inch of finger left. He said he didn’t know if it was possible for him.

I began to tell him that it is possible. “Anything is possible if you want it badly enough.” I told him that I recently saw an inspiring video about a Chinese girl who had no fingers at all on her right hand, but that did not stop her from learning and becoming a beautiful pianist. He excitedly told me that he saw that video too and was truly amazed! I told him that if she can do it, he can too.

I don’t know if this dentist will begin learning piano or not, but we left our conversation in agreement that anything is possible when there is determination.  As he walked away I said, “Do it now, because a year or five years down the road, you’ll bump into me again and tell me how you wished you would have made the commitment.” I have a feeling that I have not seen the last of this dentist.

Please watch this inspiring video of a young Chinese girl with no fingers on her right hand, performing so beautifully. Then ask yourself, what is stopping you from achieving your dreams?  

Girl Playing Piano
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbhW_K3NvmQ

 

 

 

 


Spiders in the Piano?

I was playing at the Marriott one night in the spring a couple of years ago. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw something scurrying on the white keys. When I looked down, there was nothing there, so I kept playing. (Little did I know, there was a spider hiding in the corner of one of the keys.) I continued to play. Soon, I felt something under my finger as it touched the keys, something small and soft, I glanced down again, but saw nothing. I was in the middle of a song and to stop and examine the keys wasn’t something I had time to do. Not until the song was finished.

After playing the last note of the song, I looked thoroughly at the keyboard and sure enough, there was a spider, hiding in the corner of the keys. My heart raced and I screeched aloud as I saw him. (I hate spiders!) I brushed him off and stomped on him.

Now, if you see a spider in a place like that, wouldn’t you think it was a freak incident and forget about it? Well, that’s what I did…until the next time.

So I continue playing. A few hours later, something catches my eye on the key cover, which was in the upright position (open position). Remembering the previous spider incident, my heart again raced and I immediately knew it was another spider! This time I screamed, stopped playing in the middle of a song and jumped up from the piano bench, everyone is staring now. Again I brushed it off and stomped on it. I hurried to the front desk and told them about the spiders and asked them if they would send over the maintenance man, Greg.

Greg came armed with a flashlight and bug spray. As he looked inside, I expected him to find a nest of them. He meticulously examined the piano, but couldn’t find a thing, not even a web. Weird!

So now, I’m completely freaked out, thinking another spider is going to appear at any moment. I continued to play for my shift and saw no more spiders that night.

Now, I don’t remember if it was one or two weeks later….maybe even three, but one Thursday or Friday night soon after that, I was again playing at the Marriott like I do every week. The piano is located in the middle of an atrium that is surrounded by seven stories of floors. On one end of this huge space is a three-story waterfall, with two lighted glass elevators on each side. The roof is a dome of glass, seven stories up.

So, I was in the middle of a song when all of a sudden I noticed a spider hanging right in front of my face between my music pad and me! I was horrified and screamed! No way could I continue with the song I was playing. I abruptly stopped the song, jumped up, backed away and that spider just hung there…I’m looking at it trying to figure out where he came from. There he is…hanging from a web. With my eye, I followed that web as far as I could see it, that spider spun that web from seven stories up. He was hanging from the ceiling! I couldn’t believe it! He almost landed on my head!

That entire summer I was pretty squeamish playing there, looking for more spiders, but saw no more that year. However, the following spring I did see one more spider on the keys, but none since that.

Hmmm…It’s spring again.


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.