Friday, July 20, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 29 – Music

Music has always been important in my life, singing and playing the piano. When I took a writing class in the Fall of 2016, for one of my assignments I wrote about taking piano
lessons. Here is that essay:

Piano Lessons
by Joanne Skelton

It was sixty-nine years ago when I began my piano lessons. I was in the third grade and was starting in a new school, Halsey Grade School. They had a special arrangement for students who wanted to take piano lessons. If our grades were good enough, we could take time during the school day to walk to the piano teacher's house and have our lesson once a week. As a third grader who lived on a farm four miles from town, walking the approximately four or five blocks to the piano teacher's house was intimidating. I would have to cross Highway 99 and then cross over the railroad tracks to get to her house. But my parents had purchased a new piano, a Lester brand spinet, and agreed to pay for piano lessons for me, so I began my piano lessons that year.

My third grade teacher was Mrs. Eldon Cross and my piano teacher was her sister-in-law, Mrs Jess Cross. So I called both of them Mrs. Cross. Sometimes it was hard for my parents to determine which teacher I was talking about. My Dad sometimes would try to be funny by called them Mrs. X.

I can't remember exactly what happened during my piano lessons. I know I had a little book that the teacher used to write my assignments for the week. Then I was supposed to practice them each day so I could play them for her the next week. I'm not sure I always did that, but with my mother's oversight. I probably did it most of the time. I always enjoyed when I got a new book to play from and occasionally I would get a piece of sheet music. Thinking back, my parents might not have enjoyed the new music as much since they would have an extra cost added to the bill.

One of the benefits or not of taking piano lessons was the recital near the end of the school year. Even though I was shy, I rather enjoyed showing off what I had learned. Even more, as I got older I was assigned to play in duets and trios and sometimes even double trios with two pianos. I liked playing together and hearing all that extra sound.

My last year for piano lessons was in the eighth grade and I remember my recital piece that year was By the Light of the Silvery Moon. That was scheduled next to last on the program, but was the last solo number which meant I was at the top of her students that year. The final number was a double trio, including some former students who were now in high school. I really enjoyed playing in that, Stars and Stripes.

So piano lessons were long ago, but they have lasted a long time, as now I am playing in public about two and a half hours each week and still enjoy it.

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