Over the weekend, I had to say goodbye to a dear old companion of mine: my beloved piano, which I’ve had for fifteen years. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: ‘so what? It’s literally just a big hunk of wood and strings and hammers, you can get a new one.’ But hear me out – as I recently realised, even a big hunk of wood and strings and hammers can have more personal and emotional significance than you might think.
I’ve been playing piano since the age of four. I bashed away for the first few years on a little keyboard until, when I was seven, my parents bought me the most wonderful surprise: a gorgeous upright Yamaha. I still remember coming home from school and not quite believing my eyes when I saw this big, beautiful piano crammed into my little bedroom. It was the best gift I’d ever gotten (and remains so to this day)!
Now, I’m not particularly good at very many things. I’ve always been a complete sporting failure, I am neither artsy nor craftsy, and I’m a decidedly average chef. But I am good at playing piano. I had the most excellent teacher for over ten years and I am extremely lucky in that I have absolute pitch (or relative pitch…the difference between them confuses me a bit. Whichever one involves being able to grab a C out of mid-air and learn songs by ear quite easily is the one I have. MAGIC!). I completed up to Seventh Grade in the AMEB examinations and became obsessed with songwriting in my senior years of high school. (My friends still like to sing my own songs back to me on occasion, much to my eternal horror.)
For a long time, I thought that music was the thing I would base my future around. I even auditioned successfully for the Conservatorium of Music when I finished school, but eventually decided to pursue my other big love: books and words and writing. I don’t regret my decision at all – I absolutely love where I am and where I’m going, and I don’t think I would have been anywhere near as happy pursuing music as a career. Nevertheless, music has been, and always will be, a huge part of my life and a huge part of the person I am.
After I first moved out of home at the start of this year, Mum and Dad floated the idea of selling my piano. They had good reason: I didn’t live there anymore, so it didn’t get played – it just sat there, gathering dust and going out of tune. I did play it occasionally when I visited, but that really wasn’t often enough; I knew that, and I could see my parents’ point, but I just couldn’t bear to let it go. I remember one extra tearful phone call to Mum, begging her not to sell it – not yet, anyway; I wasn’t ready. When the time came for it to really be sold, I was calm upon hearing the news, but surprised myself by crying like an absolute girl as soon as I thought about going to Mum and Dad’s to play it for the last time.
I suppose I had never really thought about how big a part of my life that piano had been. It was always just there – there for me to learn and spend hundreds of hours practising on; there for me to palm-mash furiously when I couldn’t get a piece right; there for me to write and create music with. As usual with the good things in life, I pretty much took it for granted. I never once considered the fact that I might one day have to see it go, or the fact that I would only then realise what it meant to me.
My parents are in the process of selling their house at the moment, which is why the time has come to farewell my beautiful piano. It’s going to a couple who plan to give it to their daughter as a surprise wedding present when she comes home from her honeymoon, which I think is really lovely. I will miss it a whole lot, but I’m really happy it’s going somewhere it will be appreciated.
Now, don’t worry, I’m finished discussing my deep emotional attachment to an inanimate object (and hopefully this is the last bit of blatant sentimentality you’ll find here for a while). The last thing I’ll say is that I hope things might one day go full circle: that eventually I might come home from my honeymoon, to my house, to find a lovely old piano there waiting for me. I think it’d be then that I would truly know the meaning of having a home of my own.
Playing one of my favourite pieces on the weekend
(in a very rusty fashion, hence the 15-second Instagram clip and not the full video).