LETTER: Isolation helps rediscover lost treasures

Lucy Richards, Mount Gambier

COMPULSORY isolation over the last few months has been responsible for the discovery of many forgotten treasures.

Photos, family histories, school report cards (perhaps they’re not really treasures) and particularly for me, the piano.

It takes pride of place in our sitting room but I cannot remember the last time I tickled the ivories.

It brought back many fond memories. One was cycling to the beautiful old convent in Naracoorte for lessons with the nuns.

This was an interesting choice by my devout Presbyterian parents who were, however, always broadminded and accepting of others with different beliefs and cultures.

I did not have the ability to play the piano ‘by ear’, so I learnt the traditional way, practising endless scales and reading the music of the mainly classical pieces.

I was envious of a couple of my friends who learnt the more modern way, using chords, which meant they could bash out all the current hits, always popular with their mates.

Exams were scary, with an examiner coming from the city for the practical assessment and then we all gathered together in one room for the theory test.

Passing at a certain level meant we gained a subject towards our Intermediate, Leaving or Matriculation certificates.

Well, after all those years, where do I start? I opened the tapestry covered lid of the piano stool to delve into my stack of music.

A couple of Christmas carol books – no, wrong time of the year.

I could go classical with Strauss waltzes or perhaps Mozart.

Maybe something more modern, like “101 Songs of the Pop Era” or “The Best of Elton John”.

I could please hubby and teach myself the “Forest Gump Suite” – his favourite.

Too many choices.

Maybe just resort to “Chopsticks”.

Tolerant family members are essential if you want to practise while they are around.

Earplugs might be a handy investment, or send them outside for a spot of weeding.

As a piece of furniture, the old-style dark timber pianos like mine, fit perfectly with my home décor but would clash with the minimalist look popular today.

I guess trendy portable keyboards could be the answer.

I wonder if learning the piano today is as popular as it was in both my generation and our children’s.

Musically, there are probably many more portable and cheaper instruments available today – a ukulele or, heaven forbid, a recorder.

Maybe you do not need your own piano anyway, as computer programs can show you the way on the screen.

How am I going, refreshing my piano skills?

Pretty hopeless.

Not quite up to performing at one of those Elder

Conservatorium live concerts yet.

But, with so much time available, you never know.

Lucy Richards, Mount Gambier