Thursday, April 8, 2010


It was an old upright Grand piano. About sixty years old and rather plain, it had particularly good, clean sound. All the keys played smoothly and the pedals worked flawlessly. The wood needed to be conditioned, but that was a small concern. The price was almost a steal at $35 and they were willing to deliver it for another $20. It would look good in the living room where the acoustics were the best: old-world plaster walls and hardwood floors.

I had thoughts that once the piano arrived, I would begin playing as regularly as I did as a child and maybe even begin composing again.

I didn’t.

Perhaps I had been singing and songwriting too many years with the guitar or maybe I simply lacked the self-discipline to practice the way I did as a kid, but in either event the piano didn’t get a lot of workouts. At least not by me.

My daughter, on the other hand, seemed truly fascinated by it.

She started just plinking and plunking. Eventually figuring out how the keys worked, she then graduated from plinking and plunking to actually playing simple songs. I showed her how to read sheet music, but I think she might have figured that out on her own as well.

She practiced completely on her own. Sometimes playing the same song over and over and over and over and … yes, over and over some more. I vaguely remember yelling at her once to stop playing so much because I “couldn’t take it any more” and I think I really hurt her feelings. I’m sure I apologized to her later, after the damage had already been done, but fortunately it didn’t stop her from continuing to practice and play.

Within a year, she was playing so well that she was being asked to play accompaniment with singers at her school. From classical to contemporary, she plays with accomplishment and soul, and without ever having taken a formal lesson.

She was one those gifted few who literally taught herself to play music, and she did so through sheer determination, practice and perseverance. Hour after and hour, day after day, week after week, month after month.

Frankly, I don’t know how that young girl had such tenacity, especially after her dad was such a jerk to yell at her about it, but it has indeed served her well through the years. And I don’t know if I ever told her how proud I am of her accomplishment, but if not, let me do so now publicly.

Well done, Griz, well done.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Dad... no damage done. I taught myself piano from learning from the best: my dad.

    And hey, let's be honest, sometimes it's hard listening to the same song over and over and over and over and... over and over...