When Minnie the Moocher kept me awake

We were still pretty little when my grandmother up and decided that my sister and I should be musical (as if one just decided such things). She (very generously) bought what I call an upright piano (but which I’m told is technically a spinet), and Lynnie and I began taking lessons at the studio upstairs over Rice Music House (aka the Piano Store). My sister had a little natural talent and could play a bit by ear, but she didn’t really care much for practicing, so that wasn’t going anywhere. I, on the other hand, was absolutely devoid of talent, but I had my mind made up that piano was something that I might actually want to learn.

What I didn’t count on, however, was the huge gaping hole in my brain where I assume normal people have the ability to memorize things. I would practice and practice, and two minutes later it was as if I’d never heard that song before. I took lessons for at least three years, and  the only things I managed to retain were the location of ‘middle C’ and the memory of my piano teacher’s vaguely stale breath. My recitals were just downright unpleasant for everyone concerned, and I was eventually asked allowed to stop playing altogether.

So it turns out that most of the piano playing in our house was done by my granddaddy. He would occasionally wake us up by playing boogie woogie piano, completely by ear. I would snuggle down deeper into the covers, only to be reawakened by the booming notes of “Hi de hi de hi de ho!”

 It’s a very good memory.

Many years later, after both of my grand parents were gone, Mama gave that piano to our friend Mike, so that his little girl could take lessons. He and a friend loaded the instrument into the back of a pickup and off they drove, with Mike sitting on the piano bench in the truck bed, looking for all the world like he was playing a grand concerto…or some boogie woogie. I think Granddaddy would have liked that.

 

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