Tag Archives: piano

What a beautiful hand

This hand is 91 years old. It’s a beautiful hand, don’t you think? Sure it has wrinkles and age spots, but it has earned those. Those represent character.


It represents long, hard hours spent working in gardens, pulling lovely orange carrots, feeling through leaves for hidden peas and beans, and yanking out unwanted weeds.

This hand has spent hours teaching piano lessons to hundreds of children and adults, showing proper placement of fingers and demonstrating difficult passages. It has worked with its partner hand to play piano for concerts, to accompany other musicians, and to teach seven grandchildren favorite songs.

It has sewn countless items of clothing, knitted scarves, quilts, sweaters and mittens for five children and those seven grandchildren. It has fashioned suits for a tall, funny, intelligent man who often held the hand in his own.

It has signed hundreds, probably thousands, of Christmas and get well cards. In its 20s, it typed letter after letter for a bigwig at Chicago’s May Company. It has poured coffee and tea for countless family members and friends.

It’s been a busy hand for 91 years. Age has slowed it somewhat, but in the summer, it still plants and cares for a small garden plot. Some days it folds napkins and rolls silverware for the next day’s meal. On Saturdays, it partners up with its mirror companion to play game after game of Rumikub. In its spare time, it writes emails to family, updates a journal on a computer, and plays a favorite computer games. When it tires of that, it turns pages of books for its owner.

The diamond ring has graced the finger for nearly 70 years, although it had to relinquish it briefly when it was reset. The thin wedding band has been there almost as long. The wider band belonged to the tall, funny, intelligent man until he died. The finger wears it proudly in memory of him, to keep him close. Inside the band is an inscription that says WSP TO RFP, JUNE 16,1945.

This is my mother’s left hand. It really is beautiful.

Surviving moving day

When I was a kid, my next-door neighbors, the Schirchs, moved to a house about seven houses west. It was basically pretty simple…throw things in a truck and drive down the street. But then there was the piano. It was just a typical upright piano…a small one by most standards, but hey, pianos are heavy at any size. So after scratching his head for awhile, Reldon Schirch nabbed a couple of neighbor boys and they rolled the piano down Elm Street. I don’t remember how they got it up the steps. That wasn’t my problem. I was just a kid.

But flash forward about 40 years. This time the move involves a 6 1/2-foot Steinway and its new home is about 1/2 mile south….still a relatively simple move if you compare it to moving a 9-foot grand from North Carolina to a mountain-side cabin about one mile uphill in Virginia. Ask my brother about that. On the other hand, don’t ask him. He’ll turn green.

So anyway…there we were, pondering the best way to move the piano belonging to my mother — the one she’d taught hundreds of children to play over the past 37 years. I still remember the day that piano arrived at 430 W. Elm St. Well, actually, I remember the day it was supposed to arrive, but was postponed by a day. Which turned out to be a blessing. That night, a drunk driver missed the corner on Elm and drove his car smack into the corner of my bedroom and the music room.

But I digress. It’s 2011 and the piano movers have been summoned. On the first day, ice interferes. On the second day, snow interferes. But as they say, the third time’s a charm and the move was on. My brother kept my mom busy while I nervously stood around holding my breath as two average sized guys removed the piano’s legs, wrapped in some kind of cushioned fabric, and painstakingly moved it down one ramp and up another onto the truck.

Arriving at our house, they pondered their next move. Block the street and move it straight up the sidewalk or back {up} the driveway and trundle it over the flagstone? They finally settled on backing up, covering the flagstone with one ramp and placing another ramp on the stairs.

Their biggest concern was that we needed something under the legs to protect the wood floor. We finally made them happy by folding up rag rugs on which to place the legs. My brother told me later that he asked his builder whether his new floors would hold up under his own grand — the builder was unconcerned, saying it was like having five 200-pound persons at a party standing close together. They wouldn’t fall through, right?

So far, the floorboards seem to be holding up well. Old oak must be strong. Now, the challenge is for one of us to resurrect her rusty piano skills and the other to develop his. But hey, there’s that 87-year-old just itching to teach more lessons. In fact, the dinner table conversation earlier this week involved a lively discussion of the circle of fifths.

More on that later. For now, scales rule the roost.

Fred practicing scales