Some of us learn to play the piano in grade school. We had a teacher in our little town that taught all the kids, but we didn’t have a piano so I couldn’t take lessons while I was in school.
I always wanted to learn and would ask my girlfriend to play for me when I was at her house. There was one song I loved and I made her play it every time. The song was: “Across the Desert” by David Carr Glover Jr. and I still love the song.
The year I turned 40 we bought an upright piano and I started taking lessons. I found a teacher that taught kids to play but would also take on adults. She was very brave to take me on as student.
Gerrie Bircher was my teacher and she taught adults a little different than she taught the kids that took lessons from her. The kids had to be able to read music and know what each key on the piano was.
Because I was an adult she said if I didn’t want to learn that I didn’t have to, all I had to learn was that a certain key on the piano was a particular note on the scale and how to make it sharp or flat. That was pretty easy to learn.
The next part was learning which finger to use for each note and how to move your hand as the scale went higher. I am ambidextrous so the fingering came pretty easy for me. And after a few months I felt like I knew the notes and the corresponding keys pretty well.
But I was very self conscious about my playing and wouldn’t let any one hear me practice. Gerrie was the only one that heard me play. I practiced when my husband was at work and never played when he was at home. I didn’t want him to hear me make a mistake.
But there was someone in the house that had to listen to me play and I thought that she wouldn’t critique my playing but she did. Miss Lady had to listen to me practice the piano. The minute I sat down and started to play she would run as far away as she could in the house, sit down and start to howl.
After that went on for about a year I bought a Roland keyboard, the same size as a piano and a big bonus was the earphones. I could plug them in and Miss Lady didn’t have to hear me play. Since she couldn’t hear me playing she would lie in the same room with me while I practiced.
But you know me, I am my father’s daughter, I couldn’t pass up a chance to zing her. So every once in a while I would reach down and unplug the earphones and the music would fill the room. She would jump up, throw her head back and howl and race from the room.
I took lessons for 4 years and then realized that I had attained my two goals: I could pick up a book and play any song and I could play “The Desert Song”. Gerrie had succeeded beyond her wildest expectations to teach this old dog new tricks.
I knew Gerrie had other people that wanted her to teach them how to play the piano, so I quit taking lessons from the best teacher in Hutchinson. I was surprised that she hadn’t pulled her hair out teaching me and sent me packing long before that.
Gerrie had taught me to play the piano and I enjoyed learning from her. She didn’t make you feel like you were all thumbs when you were trying to learn. She had the patience of Job while working with her students.
I haven’t played in years and will probably have to learn all over again. Or is it like riding a bike; you never forget once you learn? I guess I need to find out one of these days.
I now remember there were a few people that heard me play. (Must have been something I wanted to block from my memory.) Not that I wanted to have anyone listen to me but I had no choice. And I hated every minute of it when I had to play in front of them.
I decided for some reason to take a piano class at JUCO. I know, I know…………. what the heck was I thinking? Guess we all have to do something stupid once in a while. I didn’t know that we would have to play in front of the others in the class when I signed up for the class.
I think there were 10-15 students in the class. We ranged from beginners, like me, to some that were really good. I wondered many times why the ones that were really good were taking the class. They sure made the rest of us envious.
Homer was one of the very experienced ones that took the class. He was so good he could have been a professional piano player. I would just sit in awe when it was his turn to play during class.
We usually had an assignment to learn for the class, but it was all too easy for Homer, so he would play something more difficult that he chose on his own.
I was so envious of how he could play the piano with no effort at all. Then I was embarrassed when it was my turn to play. Everyone in the class was in awe of Homer and how he could make the piano sing.
I don’t know if I can still play the piano, but will give it a try now that I have retired and have the time. My worst critic, that used to howl and run and hide, has passed away so I won’t have anyone to critique me.
I wonder if Gerrie would consider teaching me again if I need help? I am betting she has had enough of me learning to play the piano. To contact Sandy: [email protected]