Last week, I gave our piano away, and it was a very emotional experience. I know that it was the right time to give it up, but that didn’t make it any easier.
As the piano passed through the back door, a flood of memories passed through my mind. I was suddenly reminded of all the experiences that we had as a family that were connected to that piano.
When Frank was about 5, he decided that he wanted to learn how to play the piano. He was so young, but he seemed to have a deep desire to learn to play. Angela made some inquiries and discovered that there was a new music program that was designed for young learners, called Suzuki. The Neighborhood Music School in New Haven had a Suzuki program and Angela decided to enroll him. We didn’t have a piano and Angela would bring Frank to her mother’s house to use the one in the living room there.
After a certain period of time, Angela’s mom offered it to us since it wasn’t being used, and the piano moved to our home. Frank really enjoyed playing and learning, and after a few months, Matt, his older brother decided that he would like to learn as well. Since Angela had learned to play on that very piano, she became the lesson monitor and coach; overseeing the daily practice and reviewing the fingering excises with both of them.
We developed a routine; Angela would take the boys into New Haven for their Tuesday lessons with Mrs. Cruthers. At five, when they were finished, I would meet them at Sally’s for pizza.
Over time, as they both developed their skills, our home was filled with the happy sounds of music. Frank, in particular, was really determined to advance his skills and became a quite accomplished player. I still remember the after-dinner concerts on Thanksgiving to showcase their skills; they always ended with a four handed duet which bought smiles to our faces.
You see, the piano took on the role of a family convener; bringing us together and bringing Frank and Matt together in a common pursuit. Once again, it was Angela, with her own playing ability, who was able to provide the necessary support.
When they went off to college, the piano fell silent, a victim of that rite of passage. Our kids were moving on to another part of their lives which didn’t include the piano. On those occasions when they were home, Frank would usually sit and play, but it wasn’t the same; there were lots of other things to do.
Nonetheless, the piano stood as a symbol of a really happy time in our lives and we enjoyed just looking at it. When Frank got married and had a homie of his own, he bought a piano and we were so happy that he did. Matt, living in an urban row house, didn’t have space, but he asked us to hold the piano for him. After several years, he acknowledged that moving our piano to DC would probably cost more than his purchasing a used piano there.
So, with Angela’s passing the end of the piano’s usefulness became apparent. I continued to associate our piano with her; learning to play as a child, and later, becoming the teacher to our sons.
But I knew it was time to pass it on. My greatest fear was that there would be no interest in the old piano that we all loved. Happily, my offer of a piano to someone who would give it a good home was accepted by a nearby family. I choked up a little as it passed me by on the way out, but I was also reminded of the gift that it holds to bring as much joy to the new family as it gave to ours.