Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Pianist Envy

I've had a lifelong love affair with pianos. Maybe in hopes of raising up a new Mozart, someone gave me this little gem when I was just old enough to stand:

(I still have that picture, but not the piano, more's the pity.)

I never really understood at this age why my playing didn't sound as good as my mom's. But she let me join her whenever she didn't have students over.

We never had much, but we always had music in our house. The year I was 6, my dad bought my mom a Baldwin and managed to sneak it into the house as a surprise. It was the best present EVER!

(The fashions in the 70s, however...)

You can't see it in this picture, but we didn't have any other furniture in our living room. We had cheap (ugly!) cotton sheets in our window. Our Christmas ornaments (and clothes) were all homemade. But we had a piano. My musical mother decided within a week to trade this one in on a model with better sound, and she's had that Baldwin Hamilton upright ever since. And it still sounds wonderful.

She managed to give me about one piano lesson before throwing up her hands in despair. Undaunted, I got out her old Schirmer manuals and taught myself the rest. Not the best way to learn, but it worked. I'd lie awake every night and listen to her play "Claire de Lune" and "Moonlight Sonata"; it was the most lovely, peaceful, relaxing feeling. Eventually, I learned to play those songs pretty well myself. But then I left home and since then, I haven't had a piano.

Now, what made me think of all this right now? My husband, ever anxious to make his wife happy, has been on a piano spree lately. Just investigating the market, gasping and collapsing upon hearing how much they cost, etc. But not giving up on the idea. (He's really cute when he's obsessive.) And it just so happened that we were out shopping for orthopedic chairs yesterday right across the street from a HUGE piano store. So we figured, why not check it out? I could give him an idea what I'd want (so as to avoid the situation my parents had all those million years ago), and he could get an idea of what pianos even look like, what a good model would cost, and maybe he'd give it up. (HA!)

So we went in. Our children ran amuck. I fingered the keyboards and whimpered. And the sales guy tried to tell us that electronic pianos are just as tasty as the real thing. What. Ever. As I moved into the "used" section, one piano caught my eye. It didn't have a price tag on, and it looked for all the world like... my mom's old Baldwin Hamilton upright. Same honey-colored wood, same smoothness of keys, everything... The sales guy looked a bit confused. He didn't seem to know where it had come from, but eventually told us that he hadn't had a chance to inspect and tune it yet, and that it would probably run about $2400.

Now, $2400 isn't nearly as much as most of the others cost; there was a grand out front (not even full-size) that was priced at $35,000. But this one might as well have cost a million. I wanted it, though. I really wanted that piano. I still want it. My boys are getting old enough that they could start playing-- and probably should. I suspect the youngest will be really good at it eventually.

But now I have to ask myself: What else can I do without? We cut our expenses to the bone when my husband quit working to stay home with the kids. As of August, he's going to be in school full-time, which means we pay for daycare till we bleed, and there's no more wiggle room in our budget. Oh yes, and room room. We don't have any of that, either. So maybe I should stop whining for a few years until The Man is out of school and into the workforce. I just hate for my kids to miss out on what I had.



Jen said...

Hi! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Do you have Freecycle in your area? I've seen a few pianos go by there, people just want them out of their house and will give them to you if you move them. My friend Cheryl got hers this way. It's just a thought.

I love your blog! You write very well :-)

Scone said...

No, I haven't heard of Freecycle; is it something in the Denver area? I could go that far for a piano, no problem!

Jessica said...

GREAT post, Scone...well-written and absolutely wonderful.

I, too, grew up with music but it was the vinyl sort - and always country.

Jen said...

Freecycle is in a lot of places all over the world. You can check their website to see if there's a group near you http://www.freecycle.org/ They're set up on yahoogroups, and people list what they're giving away in emails.

There's usually a lot of crud to sort through, and people asking for stuff that's unrealistic, but there's good stuff there, too! We got a 20 gallon aquarium set up there (dh plans to use it for a snake) and some fancy goldfish for my daughter and I've gotten rid of a ton of stuff.

Best of luck!

Scone said...

Thanks, Jen! What a great idea! And it's everywhere, seemingly. How'd I miss it?

Jen said...

Hope it works for you!