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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Old Kitten on the Keys

By Stroppy

I set about as a very mature-age student just a couple of years ago to learn to play keyboard. I spent considerable time looking for a teacher who was on my wave length.

A young woman in her forties, who lived nearby, offered to come to my home once a week, initially only interested in some extra cash in hand I realised quite quickly. However, I liked her style and tenacity.

She was alone with four kids, husband had flipped off with his secretary years ago. This daytime music teacher was obviously bored to death from years of scales and kiddies sitting on a piano stool, “cos Mumma said I have to.” She bemoaned the fact the parents complained unendingly about their lack of progress, yet they obviously failed to ensure they practiced at home.

She was bored at work and fed up handling her own domestic challenges alone. I suppose she thought 30 minutes once a week with an old woman who paid cash on time, a reasonable sacrifice to help pay the bills.

We started slowly, I plucked up the nerve on the third lesson to tell her to get real; I didn't have time for scales and theory, just get on with the music. She smiled knowingly, and in the ensuing weeks which became months we progressed together.

Her demeanour towards me changed, I was a dedicated student, having a lot of spare time. I practiced for hours, not the 15 minutes daily she tried in vain to get her younger students to comply with.

After 12 months, I had the temerity to say I wanted to select my own music. Not that I didn't love Enya and others she introduced me to, but I wanted to move on to the classics and some old '30s and '40s stuff, Gershwin, Cole Porter etc.

She hesitated, but was delighted with the first book I found which set me going on what I call my classical snapshots repertoire. The main theme from Moonlight Sonata being a favourite. For me the lessons were fun, and we were getting on well by then.

I occasionally paid a couple of weeks in advance when bigger bills came in for her, but nothing out of line with my regular payment. As time went on - surprise, surprise - this wonderful music teacher had, without me even realising, taught me much about the theory and practice of music that make music the discipline that it is.

I never played for my family except on one occasion they asked how my lessons were going, just making a polite enquiry. It was after we had had dinner together for yet another family celebration and I had enjoyed a few drinks. Hubby, unsolicited, carried my keyboard out and set it up and demanded, “let 'er rip love, play 'em The Entertainer.

So, full of dutch courage I thought why not, and sat at the keyboard to truly, “let er rip.” Oh! dear what a disaster, they never asked me to play again and I have never offered.

My granddaughter consoled me and for a few months asked me to play some pieces for her, which then prompted her to learn keyboard. Now she doesn't need to ask me to play, she struggles through her own pieces which I applaud loudly, cringing with every wrong note.

My teacher left me after three years! Why did I think I had a life-long friend; she was young, attractive, her kids all moving on. She told me she was using an online dating service. She had a few, coffee only dates and said, “a complete waste of time.”

Then it happened. At her dance class, she fell in love with an older man. He had been married twice before, he had two children older than her own and two in primary school. I said, “What on earth are you doing?”

But she was “in love,” she said.

I quickly did the maths. “When you are sixty, he will be 75!” I almost shouted at her."

“I don't care, I love him,” she said, and she waltzed out of my life and my music died. I don't play much at all now. I have joined a writers' group.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting..]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


At my age, I too continue to learn that the young don't often take action on advice from people our age who have been "through it all." Or have we?
I loved reading your story of just such an experience. She was so lucky to have you as a student/friend during the hard times of being alone.
Michigan Grandma

Good for you!! You try new things, enjoy them, and move on if the mood strikes. Isn't our age wonderful? Every time I think about the future,I say, "hey you don't have to worry about that!! Now go out and play!!"

Interesting. I enjoyed it but it was a bit of an emotional roller coaster ride. Thanks for sharing.

What about your writer's group. On line, at the library, in someone's home?

Love it!

Thanks for all comments. My first effort, new at Bonzer, & new to writing.In answer to Mary, I have joined two groups, one meets at a neighbourhood house monthly.Excellent critiques given by members of any readings. All genres, poetry, memoirs, fiction etc. The second I joined to take part in postal workshops. I am in a group of eight. We can send a contribution of any genre to our editor monthly,who compiles a book of all contributions and sends to first name on list. As each member of group receives it they read & critique all offerings and then post on to next name on list. A proposed 4 day time limit given to repost,process of reading helped, along by editor emailing contributions as well as posting book. Fabulous way at both of these groups to read & learn from others.

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