When my granddaughter was almost six she started taking piano lessons. After she had taken them for a few weeks I asked her how she liked playing the piano.
She enthusiastically explained what she had been learning and that now she could play whole songs. Then, with fingers wiggling in the air she raced off to the piano to perform.
She climbed up on the bench and perched her small frame on the edge. Searching through the music books she selected the one she wanted and spread it open on the music rack. Concentrating, small feet stretching to touch the petals she began to play, Old McDonald had a farm. The notes were sometimes hesitant but each one struck true and pride in her achievement reflected on her young face. Had you looked you would have seen it mirrored on my face as I watched her.
I asked her to show me where “middle C” was and she plunked a white key in the middle of the keyboard. Looking up she asked, “Is that right?” I told her I didn't know for sure because I didn't know how to play piano. She considered this for a moment and then her face lit up as she said, “I can teach you to play!”
I sat down at the bench and pulling Emma onto my lap we began my piano lesson. Pointing to the diagrams in the book she explained about finger position and then taking my left hand she spread my fingers and gently placed each one in its proper place. Satisfied with their placement she then pressed each of my fingers down with hers, in the sequence of the melody. All the while she was giving instruction on how to read the diagrams and music notes in the book. Once she felt I had mastered the left hand fingering we moved on to the right hand and repeated the technique. Her attention to the process was complete and each time I made an error she would patiently show me again the proper way to play it. When I could finally play it correctly all the way through she beamed, almost as proud of me as she had been of her own accomplishment.
It was a simple thing, that time sitting at the piano together but one of those sweet moments to be tucked away in memory. In my mind's eye I can still see us sitting there, heads bent over the keyboard. I can see her small square hand lying on top of my large wrinkled one. I remember how she carefully placed each of my fingers on the piano key, gently pressing down to make each note with me until I could repeat the sequence by myself. I can hear her small childish voice, patient as she explained and encouraged my efforts.
She will be ten soon and she probably doesn't remember that afternoon when she taught grandma how to play piano and that is okay. I will hold that dear memory for both of us. For me it was a treasured moment in an ordinary day with my granddaughter.
Diana, for the Poplar Grove Muse