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Apr 01

I Used To Play The Piano

This is a guest post from Sue Almond, creator of the blog Writers End and my writing teacher.  Check out her site if you have always had a wish to write but think you lack the skills or confidence.  She counts many published authors among her friends and her enthusiasm for her “students” is contagious.

I Used To Play The Piano

 

Marc often says that he meets dozens of people who tell him that they used to play the piano but gave it up. For Marc, who cannot imagine or remember a day in his life when he did not play, this is unbelievable and verging on the tragic! So I hardly like to admit that I am yet another ex-pianist.
My parents paid for years of lessons. I took, and passed various exams, theory and practical and was the envy of those friends who also played, when they bought me a second-hand baby grand piano.
I gave up playing for a variety of reasons. Doing my piano practice was a duty, akin to homework. I was never all that enthusiastic, especially when I could see my non-musical friends playing outside, through the window. I hated exams, always have and always will and had to be pushed into taking them by my long-suffering piano-teacher, Miss McFarland, a rather old-fashioned, refined lady. When I left home I did not have a piano, it isn’t a very portable instrument after all and I did not have room for one. As a young mum I was too busy to miss any part of piano playing.
But I am so glad I learned music. I am absolutely convinced that my appreciation of all music has been enhanced by having done so and I do love everything from classics to pop, from jazz to brass.
My grandfather was a violinist and taught piano and my grandmother also played.
My dad played trombone in a works band and when they were North West Area Champions, in the 1970s I went on my first visit to the Royal Albert Hall. If you have seen the marvellous film ‘Brassed Off’ you will be able to picture it. We used to say my dad could get a tune out of practically anything but never played anything well, a little unfair I think, especially in the case of the trombone, but he was a dabbler.

Piano, mouth organ, ukulele, guitar, organ… he played them all, and we had a radiogram and a great collection of shellac 78s, from Fats Waller to George Formby, with a heavy dose of Glen Miller and some Hoagy Carmichael thrown in. These were the sounds I grew up with until I started to buy my own vinyl in the 60s.

 


Marc’s blog has brought back so many musical recollections for me, memories that had drifted into the archives way back in my memory banks. He has reawakened my appreciation of old favourites like Oscar Peterson, the ‘Maharaja of the keyboard’, and Winifred Atwell the Trinidadian ‘Queen of the keyboard’ from the 50s to the 70s who was so enormously popular. He has made me smile, thinking back to Liberace on television and Dudley Moore who so cleverly ‘played badly’ when he was, of course an accomplished pianist.
I have never lost my love of piano music but Marc’s blog has blown away a few cobwebs and I am now giving it a fresh coat of listening to! I love it! Thanks Marc.

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