Play Us a Tune

Steven knew it was practice time. Every day at 4.30pm, an hour after school finished, he would sit down in front of the piano and practise for an hour. Steven was 14 years old and had been learning the piano for 7 years now. Was he any good? Well, his parents thought so, as did the extended family. Every time there was a party or gathering at their home, Steven would be asked to ‘play us a tune, dear’. In some ways it felt a little tedious but secretly, he loved to play for an audience.

There is a chemical reaction in your body when you are asked to do certain things. For example, public speaking is feared only second most to death! For a musician, playing in public has its moments of doubt, but if you are reasonably accomplished on the instrument you play, then the initial nerves dissipate relatively quickly. In fact, the empathy you get from an appreciative audience soon has you playing with a lot more passion than you would feel during a lesson or practice with the teacher.

And so it was with Steven. His playing for family and friends seemed to elicit the best out of him and his recitals were always received with a big round of genuine applause. Steven’s problem was not that he couldn’t play, it was more the fact that the piano they had in the house was old, old, old! It had belonged to his grandmother who would lovingly caress the keys every time she was visiting as if patting an old dog.

Steven wanted to play in a funky, modern group, but you could hardly carry a piano around with you to band practice, could you? His 15th birthday was coming up and he had dropped enough hints to his parents that he would like to move from the old upright to a more modern style of piano. This family heirloom of a piano he was using was okay, most of the time, but it had a tendency to stray out of tune more often than Steven liked. That meant phoning old Mr. Bennett, the piano tuner, and asking him to visit again to tune the darned thing. It seemed Mr. Bennett was the last living tuner on planet Earth. Even he had suggested to Steven’s father that they should think about upgrading. Surely he would be out of a job if they decided to buy a digital piano, wouldn’t he?

Like clockwork, at 4.30pm, young Steven sat down on the old seat. It was one of those ancient models that had a liftable top and inside which you could store hundreds of pieces of sheet music, some keyboard replacements, both black and white, and the wood varnish and cleaning cloth needed to shine the old girl up on occasion. As Steven played, all thoughts of changing to a modern keyboard disappeared as became totally immersed in the piece he was playing. There’s nothing like a beautiful tune to carry you away to another world with little or no worries!

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