Pianos have played a mythic role in my family. My father in his 1940s youth played jazz and blues piano. My siblings and I were “encouraged” to take classical piano lessons. Of the three siblings, I alone am still semi-regularly playing, albeit still stuck on Grade 3 after fifty years! But recently my wife has showed me how to play non-classical pieces, using pop song chords.
How I have poured out my heart to you!
How to make stubborn pianos sing true?
To be proficient, long I have yearned,
how I regret lessons poorly learned.
Pianos played, passionate, or poignant –
sometimes I play for personal enjoyment;
joy and sadness, both emotions you wring,
felt hammers haunt these taut heart strings.
Father tried, in vain, to make me play,
endless his enthusiasm to this very day;
he couldn’t read music, he played by ear
stiff hands recall jazz tunes that endear.
I escaped teen trouble in practice rooms,
Joni spoke eloquence to burgeoning gloom,
complex compositions, lonesome lyrics too:
I envied ‘Spark’ – and identified with ‘Blue’.
My boys were leaned-on, piano to learn
but skilled playing both quickly spurned;
grand children might revive family tradition,
perhaps then fulfilled, pianoforte ambition.
On a second-hand, baby-grand, now I play,
slight practice improves, day by day;
not always reading right, I strain for sky:
try as i may, wrong chords never lie…
Joni Mitchells seminal 70’s LPs were ‘Court and Spark’ and ‘Blue’
personal photo of my first born, Lawrence, trying to teach a toy how to play piano.