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THE MUSIC (W0)MAN
16 November 2012
I'm becoming a real wimp. I turned off The Daily Show last night after 10 minutes because every molecule in my body was screaming SLEEP! NOW! Thus, I did not, as planned, write this entry before going to sleep--the second night in a row where I have put off writing an entry until morning because of being too tired.
This means I am actually writing an entry on the day that it is dated, instead of writing it the night before. How strange.
I worked at Logos yesterday. It was fairly quiet for the first hour or so and then three women came in with two children. They were grammar school aged kids, but toward the upper end of grammar school. I think that two of the women were a couple and the third was the mother of one of them. Mom sat in a chair in the front of the store, whipped out a tiny book, perhaps a prayer book, and read it without taking her eyes off the page for the whole time the rest were rummaging around in the children's room.
The "Children's room" is about the size of a walk-in closet, but filled with all sorts of gems. One of these days I swear I'm going to choose an old Nancy Drew mystery to read just to remind myself of what it was like in the days when I devoured them.
I was enjoying the sound of four people excitedly checking out the book selections, since I can't see into that room while sitting at the cash register. It always makes me happy to see little kids excited about reading.
But after awhile I noticed that the women were still in the room, but the children had found books about cars. Each book was in the shape of a car, and each book had wheels. The kids were building roads out of books and then racing the book-cars along them. Later they gave up on the book roads and started crawling around on the floor pushing the book-cars to go as fast as they could. Then they took books and began building hills with them to roll the book-cars down.
I really wasn't happy about this, and envisioned having to clean up a huge mess when they left the shop. I hadn't said anything, but at one point glanced back at the kids and the mother, who was now standing at the desk said "don't worry; we're buying those."
And buy they did! Considering that the most expensive book they bought was $8, their bill of $70 was quite impressive! They bought Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket and Mark Twain, and Charles Dickens and a host of small "early reader" type books. Not only that, but they left the room so organized you'd hardly even know they were there. I felt bad for thinking ill of them.
While one of the women was paying for all the books, I happened to notice that the other was looking through a stack of sheet music and I was catapulted back to my own grammar school days, because I recognized the book she was looking through.
I saw a lot of David Carr Glover's music books for children when I was taking piano lessons. To be sure, after she lelft, I checked the publication date, and sure enough it was early 1950s, about the time I was struggling through these simple tunes on the piano.
One of my father's big regrets in life was that he never stuck with his piano lessons. The piano was his whole life and the only time I ever really saw him happy was when he was at the piano. It was only in the last 20 years or so that I learned that his mother also played the piano and was quite in demand as a young woman, but she preferred to party and realized that while she was providing the entertainment, everyone else was dancing and having fun, so she stopped playing the piano entirely, and once she made that decision, she never touched a piano again. My mother begged her to play something for her but she steadfastly refused.
I don't know why my father gave up on his piano lessons, but he did and though he played "by ear" and even once had a job as a piano player in a bar, he always regretted that he never followed through on his lessons.
So for both of them, it was important that I become the piano player. Problem is that I never got the music gene that passed by me and down to my children. I suffered through those lessons for two years before I quit, something my father never forgave me for and for the rest of his life talked about the money he wasted on my piano lessons. My grandmother at one time told me that if I learned to play Debussy's "Claire de Lune," her favorite classical piece, she would give me $100. I never did.
Sister Mary Victor was the piano teacher, a wizened old nun whose domain was the top floor of St. Brigid's grammar school. I remember climbing the stairs to her tiny room and sitting at the piano with her tapping out rhythms with her ever-present ruler, which was all too handy to rap knuckles if my wrists weren't limp enough or my fingers didn't curl the right way. She sure couldn't get away with that sort of stuff today! I was terrified of her.
But I did learn the basics. And I played a lot of music by David Carr Glover. I also remember I had a book of I believe it was dumbed down Hayden Sonatas. One of those was my favorite because for some reason it reminded me of the movie The Seventh Veil with James Mason and Ann Todd. I had such a crush on the stern Mason in that movie. I can still hum the tune from that book in my head and it still brings back memories of that movie.
I also had my share of "cross-hand pieces" (I threw that in for Jeri), which I practiced so I could be part of Sister Mary Victor's annual recitals. I may have hated those more than the lessons, having to get up on stage in front of an audience and hope I didn't screw up.
I played the piano for awhile when the kids were little and we bought
a big upright piano (which we only gave away about five years ago), but, I didn't have
that gene that let me play by ear and I read music poorly, so I gave up when the kids
started to play. It never was the joy for me that it had been for my father.
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