Friday, February 20, 2009


I learned piano from the age of seven until sixteen, just after I started work as a secretary in a large firm. About this time, as I was earning, I caught the train with a friend every Saturday night to the Canterbury Town Hall where up and coming rock stars of the future played for peanuts. We had a fantastic time and, as I wanted to dance better than I did, I'd skip piano lessons and cycle down the road to my friend's house, where we'd push the furniture out of the way in the lounge-room and rock and roll. She was an excellent teacher (Merle, where are you?).

I was feeling really bad about deceiving my parents this way and one day bought some 'modern' sheet music to take home to appease my Mother, as she'd been nagging me to practise more often (my music tuition was in the classical vein from the very beginning and I was feeling like a change). We had a large entrance hall where the piano sat, after being moved out of the lounge-room when the television set had taken over that domain. I walked in the front door and got the shock of my life, the piano was gone!

Mother explained to me that she'd had a letter from dear Mr. Blake saying that I hadn't been attending lessons; so she sold the piano. It was a Pianola, actually and many a happy family get-together was spent around it before the days of TV. I can't blame my Mother now as I think the real reason was money; my brother need specialist care and an operation. She was a stay-at-home Mum and so we were a one income family.

One piece I loved was Beethoven's 'Fur Elise' and I played it very well. Over the years I would play the piece on tables and desk tops; I never forgot it and, about twelve years ago, after many years of work, I decided to treat myself and went looking for a piano. I found an old beauty, a three crown Ronisch, made about 1905. It cost me $3,600 but worth every cent, it has a wonderful, rich tone. The crowns signify that Ronisch was the appointed supplier of some royal courts such as Saxony, around 1870, Sweden-Norway 1890 and Austria-Hungary 1901. The arms of the courts are stamped inside the piano - a bad photo follows.

The day it was delivered, I sat down and played 'Fur Elise' through to the end; a few stumbles but I was elated! I practised a lot and now can play reasonably well at Sixth Grade level. I had accomplished eighth Grade as a young girl but now find some pieces far too difficult, as my hands aren't as flexible and I make such a mess of trills!

An amazing revelation came from my Piano Tuner. The piano moved with us to the country, so I decided to get it tuned. The Tuner said that he knew the piano and used to tune it at the Uniting Church in Blackburn; it had been there for decades. He had tried to talk them out of buying a new one. My dear teacher, Mr. Blake, used to set up concerts, the performers being his students. I remember very nervously playing a piece on the white baby grand in his loung-room; the audience being fellow students and parents. The next year commanded a larger venue and we played in the Sunday School hall at the Methodist Church in Blackburn, later to become the Uniting Church! So it may very well be that I performed my second recital on the very piano I bought so many years later!


willow said...

I love this story about your piano! It was meant to be yours! We have a piano, but I never sit down to play and really doubt that I could play much of anything now. You might be giving me a bit of inspiration. Just a bit.

Coccinella said...

So glad I've inspired you to tinkle the ivories! It's something you must make time for; good for the soul and any other soul in the house! Very pleasurable.