The Red-Striped Piano

I was fired from piano lessons at age 7.  I may not have been a gifted pianist, but I was compared (unfavorably) to my older sister, who was 10 and clearly had more talent.  The piano teacher felt it was wasteful for my parents to spend money on piano lessons for me.  This would not prove to be my last rejection, but it was one that hit me in the heart.

And so several decades later, when we moved to Maplewood, I set about buying a piano, because we had room for one, and because I wanted to play one.  I went to the Lincoln Center sale in New York City, and I chose a beautiful black Kawai piano, not only did it sound gorgeous, but there was a red stripe against the black wood, just behind the white keys, a very thin red stripe, which pleased me enormously.  That may not have been the best reason to purchase the piano, but I am a visual person, and I just loved the way that piano looked.  And I started lessons again.  I’d like to say that I became a glorious player, but that would be fiction, and this blog is real.

But . . . the wonderful piano with the red stripe is played everyday now!  And it is very happy.  My two daughters, one fourteen and one ten, have been playing for years . . . and the music that fills our house is out of this world.  In part, I have my husband to thank—because he was a stay-at-home dad for seven years, and instead of keeping the house clean and tidy, he taught himself seven musical instruments, including piano, and he practiced with our girls every day.  (Among his other instruments are ukulele, which you can even take to the beach, piccolo, mandolin, accordion, guitar, and violin.)  His love of music became part of the house, and it’s no surprise that the girls fell in love with music too.

And our teacher, Pam Viscardo, who has been coming to play piano with us for six years, played a major role.  Pam says that children are what we tell them they are, and she has always told the girls how fabulously they play.  And they do.


It’s enough for me to hear the joy of the piano—once in a great while I play a few songs, but knowing how much that big triumphant percussion instrument has given my family makes me incredibly happy.  My red-striped friend, who sits in the living room, has a generous spirit, and I adore her.  The video above features one of my daughters, making a piano stand up and walk!  Sometimes, when met with rejection, we overcome it by watching  someone we love succeed.  That’s more than the case with my two pianists (well, three, actually, including my husband).


Holly McGhee