Last year my brother-in-law Kevin asked if I would be interested in a musical instrument. He has begun playing stringed instruments in recent years and even made his own guitar, which is a work of art (and plays too!) I told him what I would prefer would be a keyboard.
I played guitar back in high school and still have that original guitar, but I haven’t played in years and would be hard pressed to pick out “Tom Dooley.” (Why is that one of the songs people learn when they are first getting used to an instrument? It’s a real downer! “Poor boy, you’re bound to die.”)
Anyway, I have always enjoyed playing the piano and at one point in high school traded babysitting for piano lessons (the mom got the better end of that deal…wonder what happened to those hellions!) I haven’t had a proper piano in my house, however, and the poor out-of-tune former church piano I do have is primarily used for a curio cabinet, with tchotchkes and photos strewn around on it. One of two houseplants that has managed to survive decades at my house resides on top of the piano.
Kevin’s mom Pat, who lives on the west slope, loves a garage sale challenge (my microwave is one of her finds, and after quite a few years it’s still cooking!) so he got her started looking for a used keyboard. She finally found one at an estate sale, and I was the happy recipient of that gift at Christmas.
I had put our conversation in the back of my mind so wasn’t expecting a keyboard when I received one for Christmas. What a wonderful gift! It’s used, and I can tell it was loved by someone before I got it, but it still has all those bells and whistles (well, maybe everything short of a whistle.) It’s one of those wonderful keyboards that you can change the settings from piano to organ to marimba to flute to oboe to drums to …
I’ve been playing around on it a lot. When Ebony wants out in the middle of the night, I am no longer annoyed (at least not AS annoyed). I just turn on the keyboard and play a little bit until she comes back in. I’m not someone who could play by ear (what a gift that is), but I’ve been plunking out some of the familiar tunes, and I have several songbooks so I can play my favorite hymns and praise songs now too … in church organ no less!
Music is wonderful therapy not only for those who play it but also for those who listen to it. It transcends language barriers. “Amazing Grace” is familiar in countries around the world, regardless of what language is spoken, for example. Music speaks in a way words cannot. It goes right to the soul.
I think of one of the ABBA songs (another gift this Christmas was a flash drive from my other brother-in-law Tom with music on it that I can now play in my car, and ABBA is one of my favorites) that says “thank you for the music, for giving it to me.”