Piano Man

9 12 2004

I’d been warned that the piano tuner was a crusty old guy. But he’s good at what he does, so I was willing to put up with his salt. Besides, I’m always eager to meet an interesting character.

When I called him last week and described my upright grand, I could picture him rolling his eyes over the phone. “I don’t know about those big, old pianos. You could buy a new, little one for the cost of fixing it up.”

“Actually, it’s a lovely instrument–in amazing condition for its age. I know the old strings might break if tuned to pitch. But I just want it tuned to itself. I love its touch and sound quality. I have no intention of replacing it.”

He showed up right on time this morning at 10:00. He frowned and shook his head when he saw the piano. “This is probably a hundred years old. No telling what kind of shape the works will be in.”

I said nothing. I already knew the works were in great shape. He removed the front and began surveying the hammers and action. He played all the notes.

His attitude began to change. “You know, back then they overbuilt these instruments.” He ran his hand lovingly along the brass. “Look at this! They don’t use materials like this anymore.”

The first thing he did was repair the hammer on the low F. He worked with the meticulous skill of a surgeon. “This’ll cost you extra,” he mumbled. “At least ten bucks.”

I laughed. “Okay. I’ll pay whatever you say.”

As he tuned he made occasional comments. “Years ago I took a few pianos of this vintage and quality, restrung them, refinished them, and tried to sell them. No one seemed to understand the value of such an instrument.” He shook his head and fine-tuned another note.

When he finished the job he sat down and played. Blues scales. Jazz. He had a nice touch. “This piano has a remarkable sound.”

“I know.” I didn’t add, “That’s what I told you.”

He stood and gestured toward the keys. “Want to play it?” He smiled sheepishly. “I mean, so you can tell me if everything’s okay.”

I played a few arpeggios, then began playing a song called “Breathe.”

He listened. When I turned to face him he had a huge grin on his face. I smiled my approval. “It sounds lovely.”

His eyes twinkled. “If you restrung this piano and replaced the felts, the sound would be unbelievable. I almost never recommend it for an instrument this old . . . but I almost never see one as nice as this.” He ran his hand along the wood and spoke, it seemed, almost to himself. “It doesn’t even need refinishing. Amazing.”

He handed me the bill. “I only charged you five dollars for the extra repair.” As he walked down the front steps he paused and offered me his card. “Call me whenever you need me.”

I made a friend today. We found common ground on the ivories of an antique, upright grand. I hope you find interesting, new friends wherever you play.


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24 responses

10 12 2004
ilitherian

so does this mean you will get it refelted and restrung?

love,
luke

10 12 2004
ilitherian

so does this mean you will get it refelted and restrung?

love,
luke

10 12 2004
jetpacknomad

I don’t fare so well with crusty old men. Or women for that matter. They’re more like, “Boy, fix mah dog!!!”

?

10 12 2004
jetpacknomad

I don’t fare so well with crusty old men. Or women for that matter. They’re more like, “Boy, fix mah dog!!!”

?

10 12 2004
jeannedamoff

Maybe. Someday. When I feel like shelling out $3000.00.

xo,
Momzy

P.S. I look forward to hearing you play it soon!

10 12 2004
jeannedamoff

Maybe. Someday. When I feel like shelling out $3000.00.

xo,
Momzy

P.S. I look forward to hearing you play it soon!

10 12 2004
jeannedamoff

Oh, c’mon. Ask them about their passions. Share a haiku and see if their eyes mist up. There may be poets among the yokels.

Or not.

Maybe you should just fix their dogs.

10 12 2004
jeannedamoff

Oh, c’mon. Ask them about their passions. Share a haiku and see if their eyes mist up. There may be poets among the yokels.

Or not.

Maybe you should just fix their dogs.

10 12 2004
Anonymous

Ahhhhh, I miss my piano. We had to leave it behind when we moved. Waaaaaaaaah.

But I’m glad you made a new friend, ElleZymn.

10 12 2004
Anonymous

Ahhhhh, I miss my piano. We had to leave it behind when we moved. Waaaaaaaaah.

But I’m glad you made a new friend, ElleZymn.

10 12 2004
milesprowl

What a cool charater! I bet his theme music would by played by Randy Newman.

10 12 2004
milesprowl

What a cool charater! I bet his theme music would by played by Randy Newman.

10 12 2004
jeannedamoff

I’m very sorry. I had to leave a beloved piano behind when we moved to Virginia. But the good news is, that’s where I found this one. The first owner was an elderly woman, whose father bought it for her as a child, but she’d never learned to play. She sold it to a woman who bought it for her son, but he lost interest, grew up, and left home. It had spent the better part of a century standing idle and unplayed.

Then it came to our house. Perhaps it sings so beautifully because it’s releasing all those years of pent-up piano joy. :o)

I hope a lonely piano finds its way to you, too.

♥ EZ

10 12 2004
jeannedamoff

I’m very sorry. I had to leave a beloved piano behind when we moved to Virginia. But the good news is, that’s where I found this one. The first owner was an elderly woman, whose father bought it for her as a child, but she’d never learned to play. She sold it to a woman who bought it for her son, but he lost interest, grew up, and left home. It had spent the better part of a century standing idle and unplayed.

Then it came to our house. Perhaps it sings so beautifully because it’s releasing all those years of pent-up piano joy. :o)

I hope a lonely piano finds its way to you, too.

♥ EZ

10 12 2004
jeannedamoff

I didn’t want to make the story too long, so I left out some fun stuff about him. He’s not as crusty as he pretends to be. I think he just likes to say things to get a rise out of people. The second to highest string broke when he tuned it. He brought the pieces to me, dropped them on top of the paperwork I was doing, and said, “Here’s a present for you.”

He reminded me of a little kid who will think of something ornery to do if you stop paying attention to him. :o)

10 12 2004
jeannedamoff

I didn’t want to make the story too long, so I left out some fun stuff about him. He’s not as crusty as he pretends to be. I think he just likes to say things to get a rise out of people. The second to highest string broke when he tuned it. He brought the pieces to me, dropped them on top of the paperwork I was doing, and said, “Here’s a present for you.”

He reminded me of a little kid who will think of something ornery to do if you stop paying attention to him. :o)

10 12 2004
milesprowl

Ornery… lol. Yeah I think Crystal feels that way around me sometimes. 🙂

10 12 2004
milesprowl

Ornery… lol. Yeah I think Crystal feels that way around me sometimes. 🙂

10 12 2004
milesprowl

Wait! I meant to say I make her feel that way.

10 12 2004
milesprowl

Wait! I meant to say I make her feel that way.

17 12 2004
Anonymous

Beloved antique piano

That beloved piano that was left behind in Texas would become the first piano a young musician in Nacogdoches would play & practice on many years ago. Yesterday that same young musician finished his first semester of college as a piano performance major! (He’ll be playing for his first wedding this Sat., look forward to seeing you in Tyler.)

Megan

17 12 2004
Anonymous

Beloved antique piano

That beloved piano that was left behind in Texas would become the first piano a young musician in Nacogdoches would play & practice on many years ago. Yesterday that same young musician finished his first semester of college as a piano performance major! (He’ll be playing for his first wedding this Sat., look forward to seeing you in Tyler.)

Megan

17 12 2004
jeannedamoff

Re: Beloved antique piano

And that’s “the rest of the story.” :o)

Wow! It’s so cool to think we provided the amazing and awesome Jordan with his first piano. That comment made my day. Thanks, Megan.

17 12 2004
jeannedamoff

Re: Beloved antique piano

And that’s “the rest of the story.” :o)

Wow! It’s so cool to think we provided the amazing and awesome Jordan with his first piano. That comment made my day. Thanks, Megan.

Your comments are a gift. Please know I read each one with gratitude.

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