Heart songs recovered via new keyboard
By LIZ THOMPSON
October 8, 2018
This Week Community News
It was a birthday surprise. But more than that, it was a chance to try again.
Would my fingers and eyes coordinate after nearly 20 years absent from any kind of piano keyboard?
After my husband finished the task of putting the stand together, he firmly placed the full-sized keyboard on top and fastened it in place. We moved it close to the wall, and I placed the old hymnal on the music holder.
The inscription in the front of the Methodist hymnal read: “To Elizabeth Ann, from Mother and Dad, Christmas 1968.”
I was a senior in high school and had been in school and church choirs since first grade. Even though I gave most of my sheet music to my grandchildren, I had kept this gift.
You might ask why I write about music so often. Music was a comfort and a major part of my identity through my first 40-plus years — singing, playing guitar and piano, and writing music. It was my second language — one I learned from my mother and grandmother and various teachers and directors through these same years.
It was my main choice for praising God and sharing my faith. Those same songs wrapped me in warmth and safety when my life became turbulent.
I know I took this gift for granted and never expected the day would come when music was completely silenced. Even as my hearing faded, music remained a part of me.
When my deafness arrived, the music played on in my mind and heart. A new comfort: ” … I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.” (1 Corinthians 14:15)
Earlier last summer, on a trek with my daughter to exchange her harp for a larger one, I stepped into a piano store. I felt surrounded by old friends made new and shiny. A young woman was playing one of the pianos, and I listened.
Over time, my perception of music with my cochlear implants has improved. I have determined to simply enjoy whatever I could. Instrumentals especially sound good.
The woman stopped playing, and my daughter was making her purchase. I took one of her harp-music sheets and played it on one of the beautiful baby-grand pianos. It was a melody with single notes, no chords.
The piano keys felt good to my skin, and I remembered what notes to play. It transported me to the old upright I learned to play on.
Before we left the store, I asked for advice on keyboard purchases. I was hoping to touch one to see if it felt like a piano.
The next room, which we’d missed somehow, housed several keyboards. Never had I set piano music to memory, so I played a scale. It felt very close to the piano I had played moments before.
“Someday,” I mused.
Days later, I searched the Sweetwater website, from which we had purchased drum accessories for our youngest grandson.
There was “my” keyboard. The price was lower than the Columbus store, so I sent the link to my husband stating it was the keyboard I had told him about.
I didn’t know he saved the link. Nor did I know that, months later, he would order it for me after talking with our daughter.
Throughout the summer, I brought up the idea of purchasing the keyboard to Bob, and he said I should order it. I hesitated time and again. Would I remember how to play chords and more than a single line of notes with one hand? Was it like riding a bicycle?
More than that, would I play? My singing voice is all but gone, and I used to play more as an accompaniment for my voice.
So when I placed my hands on the new keyboard, my fingers worked to remember their old friends. My eye-hand coordination was tested.
I just didn’t expect the tears of joy when I realized I still could do this.
It is a gift I will never take lightly as I play my favorite hymns and show tunes and hum along.