You don’t even know what it’s like to live with an competitive pianist. Oh, the hours and hours of practice! Scales running up and down the piano keys over and over, and just when you think she’s done playing scales, she starts another variation. Listening to someone practice the piano is not relaxing; it is listening to the same few measures of music being repeated over and over again until it is absolutely perfect. And what’s worse, she actually LIKED to practice! I mean, who likes to practice the piano? It was all I could do to sit at that piano for half an hour, and she tried to get in THREE HOURS of practice a day!
I supposed that’s why my sister is a music professor and composer and I am not. While I like to pretend that her constant practicing drove me crazy, in reality I was very proud of her piano playing. (My other little sister was also quite an accomplished piano player. They both played the piano far better than I ever did, probably due to that practice thing they both liked to do.) I was more interested in reading books than practicing the piano, and so I would hole up in my bedroom and read while my sister practiced. Perhaps that’s the reason I can shut out the world when my nose is in a book; I trained myself to ignore the piano.
On our vacation, Ed and I were walking through the hotel lobby and a young tattooed man sat at the baby grand, playing quite well. “Clair de lune,” I knowingly told Ed. He told me it didn’t sound like Clair de lune to him, at least not the part he with which he was familiar.
Soon enough, however, he said, “You’re right.” Of course I was right. I only heard it being practiced a gazillion times, along with Chopin, Beethoven and Bach, to name just a few composers.
Now my sister is a composer of her own. She lives in California, though, miles away from Illinois. I’ve never been able to hear one of her pieces being performed live. This piece is one of my favorites. It’s based on a quilt square called “Flock of Geese”, which happens to be one of my favorite patterns. Meredith wrote three pieces based on quilt squares in honor of my mom, who was an avid quilter. She was able to play a simple version on her laptop for Mom when she was in hospice. Click the link below to listen:
I used to have a Flock of Geese pillow my mom made for me a long time ago. The block was blue and white and I have no idea where it is now; I wish I still had it. What I do have, however, is the memory of Mom’s face as she listened to this beautiful piece of music. I could tell that she could envision those geese, flying away into the distance.
Written as part of Gretchen’s Spin Cycle prompt, “Music”. Also read about my other little sister here: Art Matters.