From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Piano Tuning

Ongoing upkeep


Yesterday, on the 11th day of Christmas, I received my last Christmas gift, something I had specifically asked for. A piano tuner came to our house and tuned my piano. He also fixed some small things that were wrong with it -- a key on the far right that didn't make a sound and the C an octave above Middle C that didn't hold its sound. The damper on the C was broken, so he removed the damper from the highest of notes that have dampers and moved it down to that C. He will try to order a replacement damper from his catalogs of old piano parts.

Isaac felt vindicated and a little outraged when I told him the piano tuner had found the missing ivory (for the key at right in the photo) inside the piano. For years, I had thought that the kids lost that piece of ivory, and Isaac remembers that I expressed my suspicion a few times.

As all piano tuners do when they work on this piano, he commented that it was in very good condition and had a nice sound for the age of the instrument. It's over 100 years old. The most recent patent date inside the piano is 1893.

My mother got this piano when it became apparent that I practiced my piano lessons willingly and was learning to read music. We had another piano before this one. My mother had tried to refinish it, and it wasn't too successful. When she moved in the new piano, my dad took the old piano to the blowout and dumped it. I remember seeing it there, lying on its back with its face to the sky.

Over the years, this piano went from Nebraska to Missouri to Kansas with my mother and father, and after they had passed away, it moved to Kentucky with me.

The kids and I had a memorable trip, bringing the piano from Kansas to Kentucky. I drove an excessively large U-Haul truck that was nearly empty except for the piano, dragging my car behind for 750 miles (more or less).

We made the trip without serious incident, and the day that the piano took up residence in my living room, I know that my mother smiled. She would be glad that I got it tuned again at last. And she'd be pleased at how nice it sounds.

3 comments:

Gube said...

I have a friend that plays the piano by ear and he does a great job.

I play a little on the 5 string banjo and have several harmonicas that I play from time to time.

A few years ago on the anniversary of my oldest son's death I buried his ashes at the local cemetery. His favorite scripture was in Isaiah, "They shall mount up with wings as Eagles, they shall walk and not be weary." After covering the ashes I pulled out my harmonica and gave the best rendition of the song, "I'll Fly Away" as I possibly could.

Genevieve said...

I enjoy hearing both those instruments, Gube -- the banjo and the harmonica. Just the other day, I checked out a CD of harmonica blues from the library to listen to in my car for a couple of weeks.

I am not a very good pianist, but I enjoy playing hymns, and after years of playing the same hymns over and over, I've gotten fairly good on some of them. :)

RunAwayImagination said...

I learned to play piano on a 1937 Wurlitzer upright that my parents got used in the early 1950s when I began lessons. I learned its age by calling the Wurlitzer factory with its serial number. About 10 years ago I had a piano technician perform some repairs on it.

I love the touch, which is very light, and the sound, which is nice and punchy - perfect for boogie and blues.

Back in my former life in Virginia I used to jam with friends with it, hanging a couple of microphones down the inside and running the sound through my PA system.

It sits in the basement now and is rarely played, because I practice on my Alesis QS-8 synthesizer, (http://www.sonicstate.com/synth/alesis_qs8.cfm), which has weighted action, 1200 sounds and never needs tuning.

I intend to bequeth it one day to whichever of my four grandchildren takes up the piano and has room for it.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.