My Time Capsule

A few months ago, we acquired a new addition.  It wasn’t a new addition to the family like a baby or a pet.  It was a new addition to our house, specifically to our living room.  

We got a piano. 

Although the piano was new to our home, it wasn’t a new piano.  It was pre-owned.  A used piano may not be a strong selling point for many people, but we were able to get a very good deal on this particular piano and I’m pretty confident that the previous owners took good care of it.  You see, I was the previous owner.  Well, technically my parents owned the piano, but I was the only one who played it.  I don’t remember if I asked to take piano lessons or if I was told that I would be taking them.  Nevertheless, when I was in 2nd grade, I started taking weekly piano lessons.   I enjoyed taking piano lessons and as the years passed, I became a skilled pianist.  I was by no means a piano playing prodigy, but I was able to read music and play many advanced pieces with ease.  My musical repertoire was filled with classical music chosen by my teacher, but every once in awhile my teacher would let me choose something to play.  My choice was typically some pop song that was popular at the time.  And when I say “at the time”, I mean the time between 1979-1984.  Top 40 hits from the 80’s that may have sounded great on a synthesizer did not sound great on a piano.  Over the years, artists like Tori Amos and Ben Folds have created their own genre of music referred to as “piano rock” but their music was written specifically for the piano.  80’s music was not piano rock.  A musical crime was truly committed every time I played one of those 80’s pop songs on the piano.

When I was in 6th grade, I quit taking piano lessons.  There were several reasons why I quit.  I quit because I didn’t want to practice, I quit because I was tired of playing music chosen by others and I quit because, at 12 years old, I wanted to spend more time with my friends and less time with the piano.  So in 1984 I walked away leaving the piano to sit in silence. 

Even though the piano sat untouched by fingers (but definitely touched by dust), every year my mother would have the piano tuner come out to give the piano it’s annual tune up. This used to drive my father crazy.  He didn’t understand why he was spending money to tune a piano that no one played.   A few years after my mother passed away, my father announced that he was putting an end to the annual piano tune ups.  The piano that I played for all of those years, was now sitting silently in my father’s living room and, if by chance anyone did put their hands on the keyboard, the notes would be horribly out of tune.  Clearly, taking care of the piano was not a priority for my father, so in December when he asked me what I wanted for Hanukkah, I told him.

I want my piano.

I had never second-guessed the decision to quit piano lessons, but there were times when I wished I could play the piano as well as I had in the past.  I thought perhaps with a piano in my house and some free time, I could learn to play again.   Or maybe one of my sons could follow in my piano playing footsteps.  My father honored my gift request and several months ago I became the true owner of my piano.  After it’s arrival, I wanted to see if I could still play.  I had always kept my sheet music in the piano bench so I opened bench wondering what, if any, sheet music was still there. 

Wow.  First came disbelief then shock followed by utter amazement.

Yes, there was music in the piano bench.  All of my music was in the piano bench.  The contents of the bench had been untouched for 25 years – no one had ever cleaned it out.  I thought I was opening up a piano bench but the truth was I had just opened a time capsule!   There in the bench was a giant pile of lesson books and sheet music.  Everything I played during my lessons was still there.  As I started to clear out the bench, I came across sheet after sheet of music.  Song after song.  Each song more ridiculous than the last.  And it wouldn’t stop.  Every time I thought I reached the end, there was another pile of sheet music just waiting to be found.  Honestly, I felt like a magician who pulls a handkerchief from his pocket only to have it keep going and going, making you wonder if it’ll ever end.  Did you lose something 25 years ago?  Well, I probably found it in my piano bench.  Still wondering where Jimmy Hoffa is? Yep, you got it – in my piano bench.   Thought you saw Elvis at the 7-11?  Nope, he’s been hanging out in my piano bench.  

OK, I’m just kidding about Elvis and Jimmy Hoffa.  But here is a small sampling of some of the sheet music I did find in the piano bench.  

Pac Man Fever

Beat It

Thriller

Say Say Say

(Yes, a disturbing amount of Michael Jackson music. But in my defense, back then Michael Jackson was normal.  Why, it’s perfectly normal to carry a monkey around, right? Andthere was nothing wrong witha grown man carrying Emmanuel Lewis around like a baby.  OK, he was a freakshow even in the 80’s.  But his music was good)

Theme from E.T.

Theme from Greatest American Hero

Theme from Hill Street Blues

Theme from Cheers

Theme from Chariots of Fire

Fame

Magic  (from the movie Xanadu)

(Sure Xanadu may be a successful stage show now, but back in the 80’s it was a really bad movie with Olivia Newton John on rollerskates.  My neighbor was borderline obsessed with it)

Heartlight by Neil Diamond

(I hate Neil Diamond so that song must have been a request from my mother.  She was borderline obsessed with him)

Rainbow Connection (from The Muppet Movie)

Complete song collection from Annie

There were some other non-musical items stashed away in the piano bench as well.  I came across an unmailedsealed sweepstakes entry from 1984 (I guess I didn’t win that sweepstakes).  Also, I found sealed valentines that were meant for some of my elementary school friends (maybe that explains why those people won’t accept my Facebook friend requests…. or maybe it’s due to my current Facebook profile picture which shows me as a 3 year old on the toilet).  I’m not sure how these things ended up in the piano bench but it sure made me laugh to find them! 

My 6 year old son informed me that he wants to take piano lessons.  I think I’ll have to get rid of my old sheet music to make room in the piano bench for his lesson books and sheet music.  And maybe 25 years from now, he’ll open up the piano bench and find his very own time capsule.  But for now I think I’ll hold on to a few of my old songs – I think my piano has Pac Man Fever and my fingers have the cure.

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7 Responses to “My Time Capsule”

  1. NetterB Says:

    Wow – what finds! Makes me wonder what is in the piano bench at my parents’ house. I’ll have to take a look next time I visit them – I just might find some lost treasures.

  2. Matthew Says:

    Greatest American Hero!? I’m going to be singing that song all… day… long…

    “Look at what happened to me…. I can’t believe it myself!… Suddenly, I’m up on top of the world…. It should’ve been somebody else!”

  3. bklein34 Says:

    This is such an hilarious post, because you know I could have written it right down to the Michael Jackson part! Including the fact that… yes, you got it, we are about to get “my” old piano from my dad (now that’s he’s moving) who also hasn’t had it tuned since my mother passed away.

    Gotta say, this post is pretty eerie!

  4. Shannon Says:

    Beautiful story, Lori. My mom and dad remodeled 6 years ago and sent me boxes of my old stuff. Among these boxes was my prom dress. I felt bad that the dress had only been worn once by me (it was vintage from 1940-1952) I put it on and sat in front of the TV and drank a lot of wine. It’s a beautiful dress.

  5. Maternal Mirth Says:

    Best collection EVER! My son, the pianist, would LOVE it! :o)

  6. Karen McMinn Says:

    Great post, Lori. I think Rainbow Connection was my favorite, followed by the entire Annie library. I remember when I quit piano lessons in junior high…I convinced my mom it was bad for my health since my piano teacher chain-smoked her way through every lesson I ever had with her! Blech.

  7. Julie Says:

    That was a great list of pieces! Chariots of Fire! I can’t stop humming it now. Such a timely visit here! We are inheriting a piano in the next month from my in-laws. I can’t wait to start playing again.


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