Mary had a Little Lamb

IMG_0821It was Nora’s first piano lesson today.

She comes home with her little music book and looks down at my keys in dismay.

“But Mommy, our piano doesn’t have numbers!”

I assure her it isn’t broken, we just need to start at middle C. She doesn’t trust me much at all (what do I know? I’m a pleb. I don’t play.)

…until I guide her little fingers to the spot, she presses the first keys and her face lights up with joy. Yes. That sounds familiar! She proceeds to play Mary had a Little Lamb NON STOP for the next hour. I am surprised the Algerians don’t run out of their room screaming.

“Look Mom, I can play it so many different ways!”

One way with the electric piano, one with the organ, one with the harpsichord, one Disco Mary version…

Nora looks mostly like her Dad but her hands are all mine. I remember as a kid having an untuned piano in the house and asking for lessons. But we were only storing the piano temporarily…anyway, looking down on Nora’s scrappy little fingers with the Halloween nail polish half chipped off, stretching to reach a fifth…I find it moving.

My great grandfather on my Mom’s side was a concert pianist in London. His claim to fame was being shortlisted to play on the Titanic, incredibly bummed when he got cut, and then very shortly he was horrifically relieved. He did some kind of Vaudvillian act where he dressed half as a man and half as a woman and sang all parts, his range was so wide. And I remember hearing about a joke with a rubber chicken that had a ball inside of it. “Spring chicken? Spring chicken!” Okay. Maybe his piano was better than his stand up. And that’s probably why he could live to tell about it.

He ended up in a small town in Alberta as a bicycle repair man during the great depression. “good with his hands”. He felt the smallness of his life and it turned him mean.

After supper and stories and bed, I hold her little hand in mine and study it. I marvel at what it can already do.

I suppose I need to float somewhere in-between no expectations and great expectations to try and give my daughter half a chance at learning happiness.

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  1. Lynne

    I’m sorry you remember that disappointment. Here’s the background: the piano did not belong to us, it was only there temporarily because Pam and Dave did not have room for it. They intended to take it back as soon as they could. If you had started lessons, then didn’t have a piano to play on, we would feel obligated to buy a piano. In those days, there were no keyboards, only pianos which were very expensive to buy, to move and to tune. Thus, it didn’t seem like a good idea at that time. We would both have been open to the suggestion of your learning to play other instruments, though, as we both loved music.

    It seems strange to me that we said you would lack the dedication to learn to play. Certainly not a true statement, as that was not your nature then anymore than it is now.

    1. Lucia Frangione

      Aha! That makes sense! Thanks, Mom! But I don’t know about the dedication part. You did give me guitar lessons and the only thing I learned to pick were my teeth! Xo

  2. Lucia Frangione

    PS I rewrote that part!

  3. David Pink

    Good thing you didn’t ask for writing lessons, all out lives would be lacking.

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