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Thimbles, Rhythm & Natures of Things - Part 4

Updated on December 12, 2012


I was once asked what instrument would I most want to play if I could have and know how to play one single instrument well? Without hesitation came my answer: a fine grand piano!

piano dreams

As a child, I dreamt I could fly, to escape kidnappers.

My repetitive dream as an adult is set atop a hill in a shady green grove surrounding an amazing almost temple-like house with walls of glass around one large, airy, visible room occupied solely by a magnificent grand piano on a sleek parquet hardwood floor! I am inexplicably drawn to it and feel authorized to enter.

All other rooms in this structure are underground, pleasantly commonplace compared to the magnificent ground floor, set upon its slightly raised platform with deep, low steps leading to any of several sliding glass doors into this chamber all around its perimeter. There's no hardware on the doors, which simply respond to one's approach.

No one else is involved. I'm unaware of observing myself as in some dreams. I simply feel myself stepping lightly up the stairs, entering and approaching the piano. But each time I've dreamt it, I'm drawn away from the piano without playing it. I'm called upon to look into the rooms below and wander through a maze of lovely stairwells and hallways which open into many comfortable, attractive, independent living nacelles consisting of nicely decorated sleeping, bathing, cooking and eating quarters. Each nacelle is independently clustered separately from the others. I try to choose one for my own living space. So far, I've never decided on one, though I notice their features and accouterments but continue to move along, investigating the next one. All the while, my real interest remains up-top with the piano. But this lower area seems a foundation for that experience in every way.

in real time ~ always kinship with the piano ~

Perspectives in the previous parts of this series led to this one:

  • ~ An off-beat relationship with thimbles,
  • ~ An off-beat relationship with rhythm,
  • ~ Discovering a sense of the natures of things, inside like buried treasure,
  • ~ All elements of my relationship with pianos I have known and loved.

Hello, world!  Who am I, anyway?
Hello, world! Who am I, anyway?

but ~ who was I? ~ I wondered

Enrolled in first grade two years earlier but emotionally less ready than my peers, being much younger than my siblings, with older parents than my peers, plus being half-blind and fragile-boned, - all contributed to a somewhat wispy self-image.

I was a happy, but sensitive child, made stronger by constantly needing to compensate for lack of depth perception and sundry other challenges connected with that malady. Frequent skinned shins and broken bones were my trainers, but learning keen awareness of my surroundings provided no sense of accomplishment, any more than knowing to breathe or sleep. There were challenges with consequences, lacking names or identity and raising no red flags to alert others; - except, of course, my eye doctor, setting and splinting bones. Damage control for vague invisible feelings: none. Mother didn't think kids had "nerves", her term for sensitivities and anxieties.

For all I knew, it was all standard human procedure for everyone, including giants surrounding me, who did nothing to mitigate my impressions or fears. They were as unaware of my unnamed bugaboos and predicaments as I, the little baby sister.

My odyssey with pianos and music started young, along with my quest for self-identity.

timing and self-confidence

For me, progressing amongst sketchy lessons, music played a significant role though maps of Its progress include circuitous paths and detours, but always present.

Along with progress was a resistance to learning mechanical counting and timing of a piece, but mistrust of relying on my own strong sense of rhythm and tone which were in my very bones. It all cast a vague sense of uneasiness over the process which I couldn't sort out or verbalize. Otherwise, it might have allowed my teacher to address my quandary and help me wade through it so that confidence in my timing didn't flounder. But flounder, it did!

Of course it's a teacher's job to teach established methods and procedure rather than to encourage individual innovation before a student has mastered the basics! To me, though, in my murky place, it was an unnerving dilemma. This doesn't justify it, but reports how it was for me so that it impacted my unsteady musical journey!

Facing the music
Facing the music

~ duh ~

I didn't analyze or fully realize the basic "what or why" of my resistance to playing to the beat of a metronome or to performing for an audience, though I recall early feelings of mounting dread and revulsion whenever Mother had me recite my favorite poems "by heart" for her ladies' gatherings, from about age four.

Still, I always came through for those poetry recitations. My memory was reliable; it was performing skills at risk and diminishing gradually. As fearless as I was doing things when alone, I was that much more undone in front of an audience watching me doing even bits of them with their full at-attention view. It was rich ground for growing stage fright and dimming self-confidence!

stage fright

So another obstacle looming on the horizon was the discovery that, once a musical level of proficiency is reached, one is expected to demonstrate it by playing for a live audience, while actually DOING it!

By contrast, with sewing, all 'doing' happens in private, culminating in a tangible result as its own evidence of achievement behind the scenes. This other discovery about live performance to prove proficiency was a rude awakening of that old dread/revulsion of less consequential performing.

So, fast forward to age twelve, when the conditions for performing my first recital which were brewing, unfolded so that my mind emptied and fingers turned to gelatin, dangling like lifeless things dangling over silent keys.

When I sat down at that stage piano for that fateful recital for which I'd learned the Adagio movement of "Moonlight Sonata" like I knew my own name, - - simply nothing musical happened, unless the racing and sinking of my heart was audible as cacophony to my rapt audience!

It progressed into deep reddening of my face and climaxed with my shamed retreat off the stage. The shame didn't subside soon, and when it did, left its calling card.

Thereafter, both that piece and every song I'd known "by heart" vanished from my musical memory cache; no other has refilled it since. I play strictly by reading the notes, including "Moonlight Sonata", while, mostly, my timing is almost totally "by ear" and by feeling it.

Not surprisingly, probably, is that I really don't "see" the notes. But if I happen to become aware that I'm not actually reading them, I have to scramble to 'find my place' so that I can resume consciously reading the notes!

Luckily my over-all memory capability was unaffected in any other, non-musical, area. In fact, it's a very keen memory-ability, as it once had been for music. It wouldn't be surprising if my music memory-abiity simply quietly returned.

similar to ours
similar to ours
It had many limitations!
It had many limitations!

always there ~ the MUSE-ic!

Growing up in my family, there was always music and access to a piano. When a kid, an old-fashioned heavy oak upright I loved to play, - or trying to, with Mother's help!

However, there was no piano at the ranch. The only music was from the wind-up Victrola. And the only piano was my toy grand piano with its few kid-sized keys, horrid tinny tone, and sublime artistic frustration in every key-tap. For three months every summer, every year, that was it.

So I used the toy to practice fingering and pick out simple melodies. Truthfully, what choice had I?

Mother was an avid antique collector and over time, acquired several fine vintage pianos, such as this chunky square one. They hardly fit into our house, so they were like tentative visitors coming and going, except for one, my pride and joy. It's the spinet grand now here in my den, which I was given when I graduated, though I wasn’t allowed to take it away to my own home.

the piano ~ eventually mine

My little spinet grand in my den, occupying 4 feet x 4 feet with 11 keys short  keyboard.
My little spinet grand in my den, occupying 4 feet x 4 feet with 11 keys short keyboard. | Source

So it was that I acquired my spinet grand piano eventually. It's moved with me several times since and suffered being dropped and injured during one of those times, as they feared might happen. Several of the ivories required replacements.

Meanwhile for the many years before getting it, I had access to and use of another upright during my dismal marriage.

When it ended, I managed to persuade a Louisville music store to sell me the little spinet upright pictured below 'on time' @ $16 per month till paid off. I had little cash and NO established credit record or rating! I was still paying those payments after the year when I moved back home to Texas! The trusting store folks got every penny and it was worth every penny to me!

I NEEDED a piano so desperately that my honest, pleading face and body language must have been convincing to folks who understood the obsessive need for music!

That little spinet is pictured here, in my bedroom,  - where it abides, along with my easel and art supplies and many shelves of books.
That little spinet is pictured here, in my bedroom, - where it abides, along with my easel and art supplies and many shelves of books. | Source

my little spinet

Yes, at that time in my life, along with having various innate creative ways to enjoy and express myself, especially outpourings of poetry, that little spinet was a crucial part of restoring my equilibrium.

When I wasn't at my work, writing or sleeping, I was playing it.

sensing the rhythms

As mentioned, I'd failed to fully master counting time, though I do so in a primary manner. Mostly I sense rhythms rather than systematically "counting" timing as prescribed. It’s meant needing to meld with the music and with that restriction, a need to expand feeling rhythms and sensing the nature of the music, along with needing more confidence to trust it, if it was to become applicable as music rhythms themselves rather dramatically evolve over the many decades since I first began to play. The self-imposed handicap of not learning to count properly, required having to work around it ever since then. I'm glad my teachers kept trying to pound it in as much as they did! And glad I did have some sense of rhythm.

About the time I acquired the little spinet, I was eager to play Burt Bacharach songs as he did. I love his sophisticated, but visceral and upbeat rhythms. I'd learned "Wives and Lovers" on that previous upright, but struggled to capture others, many I liked much better. But I hadn't yet fully sensed his rhythm reliably.

(other Bacharach options at end of u-tube)

getting it!

Then one magical day, when playing the piano I'd persuaded that music store to sell me, - suddenly, - almost out of the blue, - sense of his rhythm came to me in a flash!

That rhythm! ~That beat! ~ I felt it! ~ I found it!


I COULD play Burt's rhythms in all his songs I liked better than "Wives and Lovers". I could even play those from other contemporaries with their newer rhythmic styles which had eluded me!

What a revelation!

Though I still needed to read the notes, my innate rhythm had caught up with my agile mind and fingers! Whoopee! Thanks, Mother. You got me off to a good start with your help at home and then arranging for my lessons next to Piggly-Wiggly! Thanks, music teachers for insisting I try to use the metronome! Thanks to ME for determination to apply an innate sense of rhythm!

My living room, where you see George's electronic organ and my Yamaha keyboard.   "Ludwig von Bearthoven" keeps the chair warm for me and the little stuffed fawn is my audience.  The open songbook is Show Tunes.
My living room, where you see George's electronic organ and my Yamaha keyboard. "Ludwig von Bearthoven" keeps the chair warm for me and the little stuffed fawn is my audience. The open songbook is Show Tunes. | Source

So in my house now, there are various instruments: George's electronic organ, my two pianos and wonderful Yamaha Grand Piano keyboard. I relish them and recall with pleasure the many others I have known and loved!

at my Yamaha Grand Piano keyboard
at my Yamaha Grand Piano keyboard | Source


Given limited talent and erratic training, I compensate with passion for piano and for music. It provides deep satisfaction, my own "magic carpet" ride into its realm. One needn't be master of all its many facets and levels in order to fall under its spell.

I fell and it feels natural and vital. I won't be an expert pianist, but playing fills my soul, even reading every note and playing rhythms with my hybrid combination of reading a bit and by ear as felt. Even the stage fright if I'm watched when playing is part of its nature! I've no quarrel with it.

No regrets.

secret ~ the nature of a piano

Oh! Needing not

To plunder my piano,

Nor rape, nor ravish

Any thing, -

I caress the keys

And their music

Comes forth

Which I create not,

But merely share

What’s already


______© Nellieanna H. Hay

My John Thompson Piano Book 3

open to some of its pages showing smoke damage from our house fire when I was 12 - - a very good year - NOT!
open to some of its pages showing smoke damage from our house fire when I was 12 - - a very good year - NOT! | Source


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    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      I hope your lyrics set to music will be coming in a hub soon. In fact, you might write an entire hub about your experience with and feeling for music - as I've done about mine, but, of course, in your own style and manner. I can see that your experience playing with an orchestra presents requirements one doesn't have to meet when just playing for one's own enjoyment, as I've always done.

      In any case, as it is, almost anything more I say about the subject seems to be repeating much I've already covered in the hub.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      5 years ago from Texas

      Haha. . .laugh at me. But seriously, counting the beats was the only way I could even hope to learn a piece of music I was trying to play. I suppose it isn't necessary for something known by heart, but I can't play by ear and never learned anything by heart other than the simple children's ditties that I already knew anyway. Though after some point, it became unnecessary for me to try to count (I say try because I am uncoordinated sometimes and trying to do anything mathematical in my head while doing something else such as remembering words and/or notes is questionable) because it became a matter of following the conductor and those around me. Yet still important because when a violinist is out of sync with the rest of the section, it is noticeable. So, it sometimes became a matter of going through the motions for me and I didn't necessarily try to get the notes so long as I kept up with the beat. It was more like appearing to play.

      Something funny. . .I don't sing and count...because I can't really, as I said. . .but I do notice while "reading" (or not) the sheet music at church whenever the leader holds a note too long or not long enough. It's like I am subconsciously paying attention to the time while not really to any of the notes.

      Someday I'd like to learn to play the guitar, but I am content to write lyrics and work with others to put them to music. Might be one coming to HubPages soon, in fact. ;)

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      Yes, I love to listen to music as much as to play it, too. Either way, - making it or hearing it - it sinks deeply within my soul.

      You count time? haha. That is my weakest link! I time by instinct, which, of course, may be faulty with a piece with which I'm unfamiliar. I can count time, but, as I say - it's not my strong point or forte! That's why when I 'got the beat' on some of the pieces I truly wanted to master, it was such a big deal! It had become internalized somehow. So I'm doomed from ever being a great pianist, even if all other things were equal -- which they're not! haha.

      I don't have perfect pitch but can recognize some notes by ear, enough to know where to begin if I'm playing the melody by ear. George really had perfect pitch. He played the harmonica (very good ones) by ear and it was so beautiful. He also sat at the organ which he owned and picked out beautiful music. He favored soft, gentle sounds and made them truly 'sing'.

      I'm glad you've enjoyed your exploration of this series, Shan. It is very dear to me.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      5 years ago from Texas

      Music does wonders for a soul, doesn't it? Even to just listen to it. that's what I love about it, though; it's ability to really move emotions, influence thoughts and lives, or even just to improve a mood. Conversely, if a song can make me cry and move my emotions that deeply, I'm hooked.

      I find it so much easier to count time while playing an instrument, at least the violin, than when singing. Of course, I have to sing by ear and reading notes to sing does nothing for me, and I can't really get a song right if I try to play it by ear. I couldn't even figure out the correct notes to Happy Birthday, and had to get someone else write them out for me!

      Thanks for pointing me to this hub series of yours and for sharing in the first place. I've truly enjoyed them.

    • QudsiaP1 profile image


      7 years ago

      *Hugs. :)

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      7 years ago from TEXAS

      Trust me, dear Qudsia - If you don't pursue your dreams, they won't force themselves; - but if you do, they may be closer than you suspect. Even if there are obstacles, you can lay hold of them.


    • QudsiaP1 profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you Nellie, you are such an inspiration. :)

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      7 years ago from TEXAS

      Thank you for visiting this hub, one of my own favorites!

      No, Qudsia - you don't need anyone else to validate your passions for music, poetry, writing and any other thing you love to do and enjoy which enriches your life and soul! We all must find and choose our own means of expression and aesthetic outlets.

      The picture of me playing is actually playing my Yamaha "Grand Piano" keyboard. It sounds like a grand piano but is an electronic instrument which George gave me one Mother's Day. I'd vowed I'd never ever want to play electronic music - but this is just like a real piano, sounds wonderful and - a real bonus - it never needs tuning.

      Besides, if and when I get bold, I can learn to record on and from it to my computer. How cool is that? I still adore my little spinet grand which really is a miniature grand piano and I have loved playing it since I was a teenager. Any piano is a blessing in one's life! Incidentally - I still would like to own a full-sized grand piano! It's never too late!

      Well, it sounds to me that you MUST have a piano, Qudsia! Perhaps dreams are better as dreams, but putting your fingers to keys and playing music is surely among life's greatest gratifications - in reality.

      I would not have missed my piano experiences for anything! It is deeply soul-satisfying. My beloved George played the harmonica, very beautifully. He would sit around the corner in the den when I was playing my keyboard in the living room on the other side of the fireplace which opens both directions, so he could hear - and he'd accompany me on my keyboard. I finally got OK if he sat near me and played the harmonica. He would do the accompanying - which was a major factor. So I wouldn't be nervous about it if I didn't have to try to accompany him. I try to accompany singers but end up sort of playing by ear and hoping for the best. But the fact is, I've found that I can compose a little. Just laying my hands on the keys and letting them find some music!

      Playing piano keeps my fingers limber for typing on my computer, too - and vice-versa!! Many of my friends have succumbed to arthritis in their hands, including one lady who used to play her grand piano but stopped. Now she can't twist a top off a milk bottle! hehe People must do what they choose to DO or lose the ability to do it. Seriously. What we choose is usually what we end up with.

      I so love reading musical notes and playing music that way, too, so I haven't paid much attention to composing. But it always amazes me how good it sounds when I do! One of those avenues I should pursue if I want to "practice what I preach"! :-)

      You might discover that your touch is light and sensitive and you can make your own lovely music! That will be so satisfying. And you could also take lessons to enable you to either play others' music by ear or by note, in the meantime. So, you see, there's no reason you can't have a piano that is not a "pompous prop". Just let yourself "go with the music" in your soul and you'll be so amazed!! It will not be "ordinary" because it will be from your own beautiful inner being.

    • QudsiaP1 profile image


      7 years ago

      This is so lovely Nellie, I envy you so much for having and playing a grand piano, the picture of you playing it is beautiful. I have always wanted a grand piano myself yet well my parents do not share my passion for music, poetry, writing or well any thing else that I do.

      I don't really need them to share my passion either, one day I will buy a grand piano on my own and place it in the middle of the room and play it quietly into the night where much like you no one is judging me for what I play. I will caress those keys away, each time singing a different tune and I will appreciate the music for what its worth even if it is ordinary, it will be special to me.

      I too had a dream of the piano, there was a grand piano in the middle of the hall way and in the dream my beloved was playing it ever so elegantly, he invited me to play it and I walked over despite not knowing it at all yet when my fingers touched the keys, he and I, in the dream played beautiful music together.

      The truth remains that maybe a part of me is afraid to have a piano; almost realising that I may not know how to play it at all and it will be reduced to being a pompous prop in my home.

      I have learned Nellie that sometimes, a dream is most beautiful whilst it remains a dream, for the conversion to reality perhaps takes out the magic from the dream.

      Thank you for sharing this hub with me.

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      7 years ago from TEXAS

      Ken - again - your comments fill my heart with many joyous thoughts and remembrances. Maybe we did meet in another lifetime! :-)

      I do love my music - and have many sources of it. At present I'm trying to find a problem in our old stereo. It had gotten unplugged when I was finding a place for a new wireless printer on top of it. That sort of closed it off, making it too heavy for me to move around, but I was able to find the cable and plug it in. Now I find that the speakers don't seem to be working. I have to laugh. George & I bought this everything-in-one for CDs, tapes, radio and even a turntable back in 1986.

      It was funny then. He was an Engineer, you know - but got all frustrated with this thing, so I, who had never really demonstrated much electrical or electronic savvy, hooked it all up - except for the speakers which he did. He laughed and told people that the Panasonic - made in Japan - had unintelligible instructions but that I must have been able to read them in the Spanish which was provided, along with other languages. haha. Not so - I just followed the English ones carefully. I suspect that he was more used to telling people how to do stuff than to following written instructions!

      I've attributed that experience for preparing me for computers and the internet connections, home networks, etc. which I've been doing ever since! haha.

      I do have a huge collection of CDs, tapes and records of all vintage, and as you saw in the hub - plenty of musical instruments. At present, I'm listening to my iPod, full of music. We still have an old-fashioned turntable/record changer for a stack of 33-1/3 RPM records built into a nice piece of furniture, plus lots of vinyl records to play on it. We each had our own large collections of records when we married. While I was making the house more "mine" and George was at work, I played those records all day long. George's wife had died and it had been "her house". - I've lived in it longer than she did, though. It's mine now.

      Music has, indeed, always been part of my life. I have some older records too, - including an original 78 RPM with Mary Martin singing "My Heart Belongs To Daddy". The flip side? An unknown song titled "Most Gentlemen Don't Like Love, They Just Like to Kick It Around" - hahaha! I have some old Eddie Fisher ones, too. Even a few 45s. Then before that - some of the old thick Edison records we played on the wind-up Victrola at the ranch! I don't have the Victrola, though. One of my siblings has it - or their heirs do.

      I was planning to go play some songs our of Lisa's Songbook as soon as I reply to my comments! :-) So I'll dedicate it to YOU! (so long as I don't see you listening, so that I get stage fright and my fingers melt!)

      Yes Bearthoven always has a self-satisfied look that suggests he has his way on the ivories whenever I'm away! But so long as he's not too critical of MY playing, that's ok. hehe. He's a good audience. I love that he also uses another name - Beararach! Thanks for letting me in on it. Very fitting! I may play some Burt too! So many favorites.

      I also love classical - learned to play it first, after "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know" which Mother taught me, and "Beautiful Dreamer" from the Stephen Foster book. But classical is not only soothing - it's like FOOD for the soul! I wish I played it better. But I do play it.

    • saddlerider1 profile image


      7 years ago

      I am sitting here with my Lap top on my lap, my Organic Java to my side so I can sip in delight as I with my ear plugs plugged in and a huge smile on my face, listen to Burt and Liza belt out their tunes. Burt on his piano and Liza LOVING her piano. Drbj is correct, not looking at the video, one would think you were listening to her mom Judy.

      Burt has been an all time favorite musician of mine for years and have loved his compositions. Now getting back to you my dear friend. Again you paint a delightful picture, with actual pictures of you and your progression into the realm of the Piano and your love for it.

      You took me on a heart throbbing exciting ride. OMG you were such a cutie starting at age 4 here and then sitting on stage in front of your piano with knots in your stomach and fingers all tense from being exposed to a stage. I felt your nervousness for sure.

      Then on to the collection of your pianos and showing us here where you place them, along with your easel and of course your audience of closed lips, yet open ears stuffed friends. I love Bearthoven I bet he quietly stands upright when your asleep and quietly tinkles on the ivories his favorite Beararach tunes. he he he.

      I love the spinet as well, however I have never played the piano, just the guitar, but equally feel the music and when I am feeling in the mood, I will hug my six string and play a few songs, mostly country.

      For some reason I delight in the vision of you in your rooms playing so gayfully your favorites of Burt's and others and singing along while you are playing. Your rooms must come alive with the sound of music. Music is soothing to our souls and us poets need soothing from time to time. Mine is soothed with classical, a good glass of red wine and my keyboard on my lap.

      Then I am content and my muse is happy to see me. I give him a wink and lay down the black on white, it's music to my finger tips. I loved this Hub, you opened another window for us all to peek into, my dear you are a beautiful MIND and SOUL, surely we have met in another life, if not I am certain it was meant to be now, you soothe this Saddles soul and I adore you. Hugs from me to you. Now go play me a tune on your spinet please...I love the sound of a spinet...

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      7 years ago from TEXAS

      Fashion - thank you. Tell me about your site!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      WOW!It is lovely hub.Thanks for sharing.

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      7 years ago from TEXAS

      OHMYGOSH, Nell. I laughed so hard at that music teacher with the cotton in her ears! At least it may have spared you a few raps of the ruler on the knuckles for a wrong note - if she couldn't hear it! :-) But no wonder you didn't like playing all hat much!

      Thanks for the enjoyable comments and for reading my hub. Hugs.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      7 years ago from England

      Hi, this was lovely, and brought back many memories, I remember going to piano lessons when I was five years old, the funny thing was the elderly lady always had cotton wool in her ears! I am not sure to this day whether it was my playing or she did it all the time! the room was very small and very dark, and back in those days she always had a ruler ready to rap my knuckles if I got the keys wrong! my mother played the piano well, and my uncle, who died in the war was I suppose these days you would call him a child prodegy, he could play violin and piano very well by the time he was five, but I could never get it, I just couldn't read the the notes very well, I think it was because I didn't like it, but funnily enough, when I was at school I was the only one who got 100 percent in music! but my interest soon wained, but my son is a different matter! he can pick up a musical instrument and after ten minutes, play anything! the piano and the guitar! so it obviously missed a generation and he got all the talent! cheers nell

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      7 years ago from TEXAS

      Loveslove - it's more than just being the one who can play. As Merlin said - there is value in a talent for appreciating it.

      I laughed reading your "comb and paper" comment. I remembered playing a blade of St. Augustine grass stretched taut between my two thumbs! It took a lot of effort to get it to make the sound! Also remember that dreadful "Tonette" they made everyone play in 4th grade to see if we had any musical bent. That thing would discourage it if one did!

      My George played the harmonica beautifully - on his own. Just learned and he could play any song he heard and it was melodic and smooth, not the rather boisterous sound often associated with the instrument.

      To each his/her own, though. We all have unique talents and it's good to discover our own rather than trying to emulate others' if they're not our cup of tea. I believe everyone has unique abilities needing to be discovered and developed!

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      7 years ago from TEXAS

      Merlin - as my mother always said, "no one gets all the squirrels up one tree!" - meaning we all have different talents and bents and not many folks have them all in their own stash!

      You are 100% right that those with outstanding talents in their own realm need the rest of us to appreciate and to be thrilled and inspired by their works!

      I've painted a ranch cabin's walls, by the way! With a one-inch brush! George and I built the cabin from scratch, as well. haha - They told me, "you know, Nellieanna, they do make bigger brushes!" But the artist in me wanted to fine-tune every stroke and leave no gaps or bubbles! hehe. I also ended up painting 2 elaborate ceiling trusses inside (which I'd spent many many hours sanding to a fine finish before George put them up). The air out there was so dry that the paint was thick before I could get it applied, making long raised streaks. So I removed it and ended up on the ladder with the paint can and a bucket of water, into both of which I dipped my own hands to apply it quickly and smoothly to all the intricate surfaces of those trusses so they'd dry like the smooth surface I'd sanded and not like some slapped-on detail in the backwoods! haha.

      Once an artist, always an artist, I suppose. They really are beautiful! And one coat with that 1-inch brush on the outside has lasted for these 14 years, even in that harsh climate! :-)

      I don't believe in "perfection" but I aim for excellence up to my fullest ability and tend to be dissatisfied until it seems at least in sight! Thank you for noticing! Hugs.

      How I'd love to be able to play the Emperor's Concerto like Glenn Gould. It's positively divine, every movement and every note. Umm! That is expertise only to be bowed before!

      Just think - if I'd learned my timing . . . haha. Actually I have a niece who plays with that much talent - or played. I think her mother's driven ambition for her caused her to escape as soon as she was more on her own. Shame. She should have competed for the Van Cliburne. She was that good. But she is a Biochemical Engineer now, so her brilliance isn't wasted.

    • Loveslove profile image


      7 years ago from England

      How I wish I could play an instrument eldest grandaughter plays a Clarinet and her sister pretends to play a violin !!Hubby can play a guitar and piano A comb and paper is all I can play !!

      Nice Hub enjoyed as usual X

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      7 years ago from TEXAS

      Augustine - Thank you! Your lovely comment slipped by me till just now! I appreciate it no less, though! That's a wonderful personal compliment! Hugs!

      And it's good to hear that piano soothes your soul. I really key into that!

      What a shame you didn't have opportunity to learn growing up, but -hey - nothing wrong with the present!! As you say - maybe one day and that day could be soon if you decide on it! I suspect the opportunities are more abundant now, too.

      George once gave me some lessons to learn to play by ear. I'm too ground into having the music before me and reading it. But there are lessons like that which are ideal for someone without previous ties to playing by reading the music! They said that having experience or background was not needed. (in fact, for me, it was a hindrance!) Think about that!

      The pure pleasure of sitting down and playing is beyond description! You owe it to yourself!

    • Merlin Fraser profile image

      Merlin Fraser 

      7 years ago from Cotswold Hills

      As with many things in my life I have a great love of music but cannot play a note, I love art yet my best and only public works were the side of a few British warships and the outside walls of our house.

      I guess great artists be they musical or painters need people like me to recognise their talent and appreciate their great gifts.

      You certainly have a wonderful range of talents and from your stories I know that you must have worked hard to reach the standards you have.

      Having talent is one thing but perfection takes practice.

      I'm so glad you are taking the time to share your talents with us as I sit here listening to Beethoven's Emperor concerto one piece I don't think I will ever tire of listening to.

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      7 years ago from TEXAS

      DRBJ - (smiling) Glad it appeals to you! Isn't that Liza rendition amazing? I thought the same thing - Judy lives on! But beyond that - the whole presentation by Liza is so totally infectious and delightful. She acts the part as well as singing it! I love the tune, - by Irving Berlin, - but Liza breathes life into it!

      Thank you for the read and great comments!

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      7 years ago from TEXAS

      Martie, my dear, thank you. No, no genius, especially not in the realm of music. It's a thirst, a passion, a NEED for me. But I'm not great at it. I'm just dogged in my pursuit! I played that Adagio at 12 better than I play it now - and had it memorized, too!

      You ought to write a hub about your own musical experiences! I'd love to read it! How sad that your Yamaha was stolen. My pianos are in need of tuning and the spinet grand, probably restringing. That was what the tuner said the last time it was tuned, that the next time, it would need new strings, leathers, all that. It's really old and lived in West Texas too long. Both moisture and dryness affect them adversely. I played it for sooooo many years, though. It was my true joy & delight. I love it passionately & will have it refurbished one of these days. I'm so put-off by a bad note, though - it unnerves me totally so I lose my focus and my "place" completely. My beloved little spinet grand has a few too many bad notes.

      George bought me the Grand Piano Yamaha, which I only play as a piano. I love that it holds its tone flawlessly! I have another one, not nearly as good, in Del Rio. I need to get down there again to clear out my stuff from the RV it's in so I can sell that RV too. But there are only so many "need to" things one can do at once! These days, more of them are inner-personal needs to do - things that tend to get pushed aside and lost in the shuffle of being everything to everyone and then the day is gone!

      If you take up the flute, I'll be awed. What a glorious instrument! if I ever choose another 'voice' on my Yamaha, it's the flute.

      I have a friend - a guy online I've known for 13 years and never met - whose musical talent is so overwhelming. He plays piano, violin, flute, cello, guitar - and any other he decides to play! And sings, too. He's also retired Navy, photographer, welder, pilot, outdoorsman, - etc, etc. Awesome human being!

      My son and daughter studied piano and violin. At one point my daughter's goal was to be an orchestra conductor! They were pretty good at the violin, but lacked the dogged dedication to pursue enough. They cared less for piano, probably because I played and if I could do it, they probably thought it 'not-important-enough', thanks to their father's influence on their minds. But he did believe that knowing some music improved the mind, though. As a teacher he'd observed that his best students were also in music. So he allowed the kids to take lessons.

      Oh, I play Moonlight Sonata by sight-reading, though the soul of it comes from my innards and partial memory of knowing it by heart. It must flow - it can't be mechanical! Actually none of my sight-reading is very mechanical and I surprise myself by being able to play a piece by sight, the first time I've ever played it. At at least my own level of expertise, I think it's fully internalized now.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      7 years ago from south Florida

      You must know, Nellieanna, that this hub was especially appealing to me. The Moonlight Sonata is one of my favorites as is that delightful song by Liza. With my eyes shut, I could swear I was listening to her mother, Judy Garland, belt that one out. Thank you for the pleasure and your fascinating reminiscence.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      You could play the Adagio movement of "Moonlight Sonata" at the age of 12? Wow! Amazing! Take a bow, my genius mamma!

      I love that little spinet grand of yours... wish I could play on it.

      Nellieanna, I identify completely with you. I will die without a music instrument in my house. Since I was a little girl I had an obsessive need to make music. Can write a hub about this!

      Ten years ago my Yamaha keyboard was amongst other precious belongings stolen and that on a Christmas Eve. I take great comfort in the knowledge that the earth-scoundrel was eventually caught and jailed. (He happened to be a professional criminal.) I’ve decided not to replace the keyboard, but to rather focus on my piano and take up the German Flute.

      Now I’ve got to get myself on standard again, for my granddaughter started with violin lessons and I want to be her piano accompanist at least until she plays Grade 5. She is, however, not as enthusiastic about music as I – her little sister is – but I don’t expect them to be like me. I’m just encouraging them to learn how to play at least one music instrument. Even the merest music lessons develop the brain, enhancing the balanced interaction between left and right hemispheres more effectively than any other activity.

      Now I’m going to play Moonlight Sonata. Out of practice, of course. But after sight-reading once-twice, I will also play it by ear/heart. How else does one play Moonlight Sonata, I ask you?

      Great hub! I enjoyed it with all my heart.

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      7 years ago from TEXAS

      Lavender, thank you! Sounds fun learning piano with your granddaughter! My grands and great grands are too far away to attempt a long-term challenge together. Great luck with that! I'm sure it's making memories for her she'll treasure all her life!

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 

      7 years ago from Texas

      The beautiful baby that grew up into a beautiful woman!

      I love piano music. It's the only instument that seems to soothe my soul. I would have loved to learn, but never had access to one. Maybe once day.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is fantastic, My grand daughter and I are learning Piano self taught. It is slow, but we are manageing. I love the piano. Great hub!

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      7 years ago from TEXAS

      Hi, Will! Well, that is a coincidence. Sounds like my experience! Thank you for the read and comment!

    • WillStarr profile image


      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      My daughter plays. She struggled and then one day, something dovetailed, and the lights finally came on.

      Wonderful Hub!


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