Sunday, March 8, 2009

Guess Who's The New Piano Teacher?

First we had the piano teacher we had to meet in a desolate church after hours, a referral from a friend, where I sat uncomfortably on a rolling, backless stool for an hour waiting for my kids to finish their first piano lesson. At the end, he made a pass at me, the mom.

Then we had another piano teacher who lived in a mobile home, and it wasn't so much the overall creaking and groaning of this, but the sitting on the sagging couch with my allergies and her two long-haired cats for the hour each week. She was some kind of fundamentalist religion and very excited about having Jewish students, especially since the Christmas concert was coming up. We didn't make it to the Christmas concert.

Then we had our last piano teacher, one at a music store, which I thought would finally work out because it was a professional place of business where I paid with a credit card and they had a cancellation policy and all that. But she had her foibles: the rotton sonofabitch ex-husband whom she liked to talk about for half an hour after the lessons, her money problems, her car problems, and, yes, her fundamentalist faith and how excited she was to have Jewish students especially - you guessed it - with the Christmas concert coming up.

So, there have been no piano lessons for almost two years, resulting in my mother asking to have the piano since in my family everyone considers everything communally owned. If I'm done with it, I need to pass it on. I say yes but the rest of the family says no. My daughter decides I'll be the piano teacher. I did take lessons for 6 years and was quite the prodigy among the little Jewish girls of Skokie at one time. Let's put it this way: at my 1971 5th grade graduation from elementary school in Skokie, I played a solo of "Love Story." I know, it's impressive.

And here's what I figure out right off the bat: my kids have not been exactly learning how to play piano, they've been learning this thing called finger numbering. If they put their fingers in the right position and then know which finger number to push, they will play a song, like a machine. I know it wasn't like that for me, and it takes a lot of thinking to remember how I was taught. So I introduce my daughter to the piano, the octaves, the keys - both black and white - the whole keyboard, and the repeating notes. By the end of the first lesson, on my birthday, she plays "Happy Birthday" to me.

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