OLD-TIME PLAYER PIANO WEEKEND

TL 5-27 THRU 29 OLD-TIME PLAYER PIANO WEEKENDThere are not many places that feature these wonderful player pianos anymore, but I can name one antique store in Kansas that still has one – and it works!  At Two Sisters Antique Mall in Newton, Kansas, the player piano (photo on today’s banner) lights up when it’s in use with a gorgeous stained glass panel.  Considering the age of the instrument, the tune is not that bad and all the keys work as far as I can tell.  It’s a joy to put a quarter in it and hear an old standard played as only a player piano can.  They even provide the quarters – is that nice or what?

As I watch the keys fly, I think to myself, “If I practiced every day for the rest of my life I couldn’t play like that!”  I love player pianos.  If I had room in my house, I’d try to get one.  Of course, as time goes by there will be fewer of them around.  What a sad thought.  😦

Here’s the facebook page for 2 Sisters – go over and give them a LIKE!  https://www.facebook.com/2.sisters.antique.mall/

Edwin Votey is credited with inventing this awesome piano.  He constructed his prototype system in 1895 in Detroit.  As he built it in his workshop, it took the form of a large wooden cabinet, much like the old upright piano, but a bit taller.  From the rear a row of felt-covered wooden fingers protruded that were aligned with the keyboard.  These fingers activated the piano’s keys in the same manner as a human pianist.

The paper rolls that are loaded onto a player piano look like they contain a code – and I suppose you could say they do.  Each little note that gets played on the piano is represented on that paper.  That’s why the player piano can do things that human hands many times cannot.  We have ten fingers, but those paper rolls can have as many notes represented as the arranger wants!  It’s amazing how much can go on at one time – it boggles the mind really.  Fascinating!

The last time we heard the player piano at Two Sisters, it was playing “In The Good Ol’ Summertime”, yet it was April – which struck me as funny.

I guess the most popular tune is “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin.

I know player pianos seem to be from an era gone by, but they have always interested me.  If you have a chance this weekend, go out and listen to some good piano playing – and take plenty of quarters with you!  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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It really is the little things that bring happy sparkles into your life!  Laughing is at the top of my list, but there are certain events that come to mind – and won’t likely be leaving my mind anytime soon.  I hope I can hang on to all the happy sparkles and think on the positive aspects in every circumstance.

Click image to enlarge

If we can re-live these little moments when the going gets tough, it not only brings a smile to our face, but it puts a little more courage and self-confidence in us.  These are moments when we were successful and happy and ready to high-five everybody!

  • One morning I tried for the umpteenth time to flip an egg over without breaking the yoke.  In 54 years of life I have never flipped an egg over without the yoke breaking, but guess what?  I carefully scooped the egg up with the spatula and flipped it over – and it was intact!!!  That was the best egg sammich ever!
  • Writing is my passion and music is my life.  Imagine my surprise when I was asked to write about music and got paid for it!  It’s not even about the money, but it’s about the words I write being read and appreciated.  There’s no better feeling to be sure.  Everyone wants to be appreciated.
  •  A friend recently asked if she could come to my house and listen to me play the piano.  I asked how long she had exhibited signs of instability – and she laughed and told me she was serious.  What a boost it was to know that she enjoyed hearing me play.  It gave me more confidence in the face of uncertainty.

Happy sparkles are gifts that God gives us.  He delivers them to us in many ways, through others or even when we’re alone with Him.  When we count our blessings and remember the happy sparkles along the way, we become the joyful Christian that Jesus wants us to be!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

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All deep things are song. It seems somehow the very central essence of us, song; as if all the rest were but wrappages and hulls!  – Thomas Carlyle

Cole Porter was born on this day in 1891 in Peru, Indiana.  Cole Porter’s name derives from the surnames of his parents, Kate Cole and Sam Porter.  He had an advantage in life because his family was wealthy.  He was raised on a 750-acre fruit ranch.  His wealthy, domineering grandfather did not like the fact that Cole wanted to pursue a career in music.

His mother introduced him to the violin and the piano. Cole started riding horses at age six and began to studying piano at eight at Indiana’s Marion Conservatory. By age ten, he had begun to compose songs, and his first song was entitled “Song of the Birds”.

Cole was classically trained and very talented.  He was drawn towards musical theatre.  He didn’t have immediate success, but eventually achieved success in the 1920’s.  By the 1930’s he was one of the major songwriters for the Broadway musical stage.  The impressive fact is that he not only wrote the music, but the lyrics for his songs.

He wrote over 800 songs and had a flair for wit.  He composed toe-tapping songs like “Night and Day” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”

In 1937 his life was marred by a riding accident that left him unable to walk.  In spite of that, he continued writing and was quite successful – going on to write some of the best-loved standards of all time.

Today let’s celebrate Cole Porter’s birthday by watching the wonderful movie, “Mr. Holland’s Opus”.  Here is the final scene.  If you don’t own this movie – you really should get it.

I’m such a fan of show tunes.  Cole Porter’s light-hearted humor and sophistication shine through in his compositions.  I enjoy playing them and listening to other musician’s interpretations.

Happy Birthday, Cole Porter!  🙂

 

 

MY WAY DAY

TL 2-17 MY WAY DAY

Today is MY WAY DAY!!!  It’s a day to disregard anybody else’s way of doing anything and forging ahead in your own unique style.  Stop laughing – it’ll be okay!  If I want to write at 2am and sleep until 10am the next morning, I will.  How do you like them apples???

Two popular artists recorded a song called My Way – the first was Frank Sinatra in 1969.

That’s the recording my mom liked best.  She was a fan of ol’ blue eyes.  The recording I like best was done by Elvis a few years later, in 1977.

I tried to play My Way at a talent show in 1975 at my junior high school.  I practiced and was as ready as could be, but the brilliant mind who put the program together put the most gifted pianist in the whole school right before me.  His name is David and he played The Entertainer with no music.  He wowed everyone, including me.  I wanted to run away.  In retrospect, I easily could have bowed out – but at that age, you don’t realize you have those kinds of choices.

Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.  – Maya Angelou, Gather Together in My Name

I went ahead.  I followed the most awesome pianist in the school onto the stage, put my book up on the piano and with trembling fingers, I played My Way. 

It was a flop!  I was humiliated – they booed me off and I cried as I exited the stage.  Kids are cruel – really cruel.  But I’d love to tell the person or persons who scheduled me behind the best pianist in the school just how STUPID that was!  It was like someone wanted to set me up for failure.  It made me stronger in the long run.  God doesn’t leave us in despair for long.  He loves me no matter what.  I learned how to fail forward!  I went on to perform in recitals and contests, and I was church pianist at twelve and played for both the adult and youth choirs.  I was determined to be happy in Jesus!  I let go of my way and did things His Way!  It was best for me.

No kid in high school feels as though they fit in.  The smartest thing that I ever heard anybody say about high school was that “If you look back upon that as the happiest time of your life, I don’t want to know you.”  – Stephen King

Life goes on – indeed.   I let the pain go but kept the lesson tucked away in the back of my mind.

So today, I will do things my way – it will not be the best and I know it – but it will be my personal best.  My name is not David, it is Linda and I know how to play the piano, but I’m not a performer – not by a long shot.  Never wanted to be.

There is one remnant of that day left in my music book.  The day of the talent show, my mama drew a happy face on my music and wrote “Good Luck.  I love you!”  I look at that music now and it’s a precious memory because it was from my mom.  Whether I played well or not – whether my music was memorized or not makes no difference.  My mom had faith that I could play it and do well.  That meant a lot to me.

I was telling stories on the piano long before I ever directed a movie…  I like the image of the piano player:  The piano player sits down, play, tells his story, and then gets up and leaves, letting the music speak for itself. – Clint Eastwood

Sometimes the pianist is a female…  jus’ sayin’…  I played My Way…  MY WAY.  When you’re in school, it’s important that the other kids approve of the way you play – or the way you do anything else.  But as an adult, I’m not that concerned about what others think of my “performance”.  Take me – leave me.  Whatever. 

When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.  – Karen Lorimer

I would suggest that if you celebrate My Way Day, you should separate yourself from the rest of the pack.  Don’t give anyone an opportunity to compare your way to anyone else’s way.  As a young person I learned not to stay in anyone’s shadow or follow a perfectly executed performance.  It’s a painful lesson, but one that has helped me more than once.   :-/

 

 

LIBERACE DAY

TL 2-4 LIBERACE DAY

My mom was a huge fan of the man and his talent – not to mention the absurdist show ever!  He was the mature version of Elvis.  I was a big Elvis fan and I admit some of it was the capes and rings he wore.  Mom had the same interest with Liberace.  She was always anxious to see what over-the-top outfit he would be wearing.  The funny part was, he never apologized for the extravagance.  He encouraged his audience to “notice” him and his flashy, expensive costumes.  That is why he was called Mr. Showmanship.

Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons. You will find it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body.  – Oliver Wendell Holmes

I would describe “Lee” (as his friends called him) as dazzling.  He was witty and always laughed at his own jokes.  And it was obvious he was very sure of himself at the piano.  He was a child prodigy – there was never a doubt about that.

Music has been my playmate, my lover, and my crying towel.  – Buffy Sainte-Marie

I recently read an article by Mike Walsh, who was fortunate to see one of Liberace’s shows.  Take a look at his fascinating article.  http://www.missioncreep.com/mw/liberace.html

The program Bio has a nice tribute to the late Liberace.  http://www.biography.com/people/liberace-9381642#early-life

I really like that piano-shaped swimming pool – how cool!!!

With all the glitter, expensive gadgets and gizmos and yes, a piano-shaped swimming pool, was he happy?  Well, I’m not so sure he was.  I really think he was happiest when he was on stage entertaining.  He always looked truly happy when he was entertaining.  It’s almost as though his audience was a guest list – like he invited each person into his home to entertain them.  That was a special gift.  It was certainly more than a job for him.  His act was flamboyant and obviously in your face, but still a class act.  When he had a TV show, my mom never missed it.

There are many wonderful performances uploaded on You Tube.  I suggest you go there to enjoy his unique style and flair at the piano.

Class, glitz, glamour and a great deal of humor.  We miss you, Mr. Showmanship!   ❤