Friday, October 10, 2014

A little tune-up

When we bought Zoe's piano last year, it came with a tuning upon delivery, and one for a month or two later, after it acclimated to our house. Which I think is funny since we had been in the house for eight months and we were still acclimating ourselves.

Well, it was the holidays and then it wasn't and things got busy and then we spent pretty much the whole summer away from our home and Zoe kept saying, "This key sticks" and "That key doesn't work" and I finally, finally, called the tuner to come out for that second tuning.

A few weeks ago, Zoe came home from her piano lesson with new sheet music. Her teacher had assigned the pieces for the Christmas recital, and she was to work primarily on that in addition to some other, smaller assignments. She was given "It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas," which I was thrilled about given that I am not a huge fan of "Good King Wenceslas" and was forced to hear it approximately 1,973,265 times last year. I love this year's tune much, much more.

Her first week of practice, she was frustrated right off the bat. It's a complicated piece compared to what she's been working on. This is part of the reason I love her piano teacher. She makes Zo stretch. She knows that Zoe is capable of great things and she consistently pushes her to go further, go faster. That first night of practice, though, Bug was in tears. It sounded like a cacophony. We talked her off the ledge, and I suggested that she go back to her old habit of learning first the right hand, then the left, and then combining them only after they were individually mastered. So that's what she did.

For the past three weeks, she's gone to her lesson and come home beaming, then bangs away at the piano. M and I have looked at each other in disbelief. What she was playing didn't sound a damn thing like "It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas." We played all the versions we have in our Christmas music library (which is a lot) and realized that they all had different introduction segments before the well-recognized refrain starts. We thought maybe her sheet music had yet another intro, and we settled into listening to something unrecognizable. After the past week, though, I thought, "Shouldn't she be past that intro part? Shouldn't she be on that refrain that we know and love?" She came home from her lesson Thursday and I asked what her teacher said. Zoe smiled. "She said she's proud of me!" Not being a music major, I could only smile back and say, "Great!" while wondering "WTF!" in my head. Each time she sat down to practice, M and I have looked askance at each other and shrugged. She's far past our abilities to help her with any of this, and I considered getting one of her great aunts or her great grandmother on FaceTime so they could see/listen/help if we didn't see improvement.

A week ago the business card for the tuner fell out of my work bag when I was unpacking my computer, which was my impetus to finally call him and get the tuning scheduled. I chose Friday afternoon, today, because Zoe had a half day and would be home for it. I just thought it'd be cool for her to see Penny tuned. (Yes, she named her piano.) (Of course.) (Doesn't everyone?) The tuner explained that it was great that she'd be there, as she'd be able to tell him any issues she was having and such.

The tuner came today, and Zoe stood there in her hot pink leopard-print footie pajamas and said, "Um, like, I don't know…maybe this key sometimes sticks? Or doesn't sound right?" It wasn't her finest moment, but whatever. The tuner got to work. He found one key that really wasn't working at all, and spent over an hour tuning all the others. He said, "Yeah, this was really out of tune." I promised him I'd have it tuned annually and made a note of how much it'd be and entered an appointment in my calendar for a year from now so I wouldn't have to rely on a business card falling out of my bag to get it done. I shook his hand and he left, and I asked Zozo, "Wanna try it out?" She sat down immediately, and pulled out the sheet music for Christmas.

Holy Mother of God…"It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas" came pouring out of Penny.

So, yeah, I guess it really did need to be tuned.

Mental note: even though we're not musicians we should trust our instinct that when something doesn't sound right, something might be wrong. Duh.


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