Tag Archives: practice

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

 

 

 

 


Red Nail Polish on White Piano Keys

Once when I was at the church piano practicing a song with a few friends, I got a little crazy and began doing glissandos up and down the piano keys to get a laugh. Of course this would not be appropriate in a church setting, but since it was just ‘us girls’ I thought I could get away with it.

Well, I’m sure you’ve heard “your sins will find you out” and they sure did because to my horror, I looked down and saw it. Red fingernail polish marks all over the formerly white keys on that beautiful grand piano! (Not that wearing red nail polish or doing glissandos in church is a sin, just a figure of speech) Oh no! All of us girls tried everything we could think of to remove the marks. We searched the church cleaning closet and tried everything. The marks wouldn’t budge. Someone said, “Let’s try nail polish remover!”  I said “NO! Back in the old days, piano keys were made from actual ivory, but now days they make them from some sort of plastic.” I just knew that polish remover would probably destroy the finish. Well, nothing we tried that day would work, so we had to leave the keys like that.

The following Sunday, of course the pastor asked me what had happened with the piano keys. I’m sure he thought some rotten kids did it, but I had to ‘fess’ up and tell him that it was me who caused it. He smirked and I told him that I wouldn’t rest until I found a remedy.

I tried everything. This was back in the day before the internet, so I couldn’t just Google it. I had a book entitled “Mary Ellen’s Helpful Household Hints”. That book had a solution to every cleaning issue, but nothing for my piano key problem.

Time passed and my best friend’s son Jeff, who must have been around eight years old at the time, came running up to me one Sunday after church, all excited saying, “Shannon, Shannon! Hey, guess what?! I fixed the piano keys!” (Of course by now, the entire congregation had heard all about the red polish on the piano keys.) I hurried to the piano and sure enough, the red marks were gone!  When I asked him what concoction he used to get those stubborn marks off with, he simply said, “I erased them.” When I asked him to show me, he took a pencil with an eraser on the top and simply rubbed the keys. I was amazed! All the marks were completely gone and the shiny finish was perfectly intact. I thanked Jeff and told him the next time I have a problem that I can’t find a solution to, I was coming to him for the answer. Yup, he felt pretty good about himself that day, kinda walking a little taller, knowing he saved the day!

So now, whenever I accidentally…or on purpose, leave a nail polish marks on white piano keys, I pull out an eraser and simply erase them! Kudos to Jeffrey!


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.