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1.09.2011

PIANO PALSY

I have played piano since I was about 7 years old.  Being the third child of three girls I was expected to do what they did - take piano lessons.  It was an era of raising kids where "finding your child's real self and fostering it" wasn't the theme of parenting.  The theme of parenting was actually "teach discipline and responsibility through any and all avenues of pain, practice, responsibility and discipline".  Piano lessons was that avenue for the Cherry girls.  Actually I didn't mind taking piano lessons for 10 years (you'd think with that many years of lessons I would be like a concert pianist!) except for my piano teacher, Mrs. Hess.  She would sometimes sing along with the music I was playing in this disturbing warbly old lady voice.  Other times, she would grab my hands in frustration as invariably I did not follow the music exactly like it was written much of the time - I improvised a bit here and there:)  I greatly hated much of the music she taught.  But, the worst part of piano lessons was when it came time for either her recitals or the local piano contest.  Both forums required memorization of the piece performed.  I was horrible at that.  I could play easily from music in front of me, but struggled to memorize an entire piece from Bach or Beethoven.  I hated, and that is really not a strong enough word to describe what I felt, playing a piano solo from memory.  At piano contest you were judged by a panel of judges on how well you played both in memorizing the piece perfectly and interpretation of dynamics, etc...  Even as I type I can feel the dread that would come over me as they called my name from the judge's table.  All eyes in the room tuned in on me as I walked across the room to hand the judges a copy of the music I was performing.  Sitting down on the piano bench after slightly adjusting it to the right distance to fit my arm and upper body height, I started my "memorized" piece.  Don't get me wrong, I played piano at church and school for choirs, vocal groups, etc, but HATED playing piano solos.  I was an accompanist not a solo performer and knew it.  I was operating outside of my giftedness and comfort level.  My mind went blank sitting there.  There was not one note that flashed upon my big screened Lynn mind.  Panic ensued at a rate that caused the pumping of blood through my heart to make it feel as though it would burst from my non-existent chest.  "Breathe, breathe, think Lynn, think!".  I started in as the first measure unfolded on the screen in my mind but the measures were not coming on the screen fast enough.  Oh no, between the conversation I was having, the inability to remember fully one measure to the next, all eyes staring at me, the judges furiously writing comments at the judge's table, my heart beating so loud and fast that those on the first row no doubt heard it.  My legs, now independent from the rest of my body, began to take on this other earthly swaying all on their own.  Oh, I don't mean they were moving in sync with the music I was playing - you know a sort of expression of feeling music and living in the moment.  No, they were spasmodically swinging wildly from side to side as terror coursed through every vein in my body.  It was as if all nervous thoughts, fears and energy collided into the muscles of my legs and like an alien, took over.  I could instantly feel the stares intensify not only from my horrible job of reciting this piece from memory, but now from this out of body alien take-over of my legs.  My only hope was just to get to the last measure and be put out of my misery as soon as possible.  The last measure came up on my mind's screen and I, without much interpretation left in me, played the final note.  I stood from the piano to a room of pity clapping and waited for the judge's final score (much like an Olympic skater who fell during their triple toe jump during their long program).  Honestly I didn't care what I scored or if I even scored.  I was relieved and horrified all at the same time.  As the scores were posted on the wall outside of the room a few minutes later I didn't rush to check them.  To this day I don't know what I scored on that piano palsy number I bumbled through.  I can't imagine it was good though.  It would be years and years later, during my then father-in-law's ordination service, when having to play a solo version of "The Lord's Prayer", the piano palsy legs returned.  You would think while playing "The Lord's Prayer" that the Lord would deliver me from piano leg palsy, wouldn't you?   

3 comments:

  1. LOL! I had the uncontrollably bouncing leg that unrhymically and repeatedly hit the underside of the piano while playing a solo...it was like my limb was not even attached to my body...kinda like a chicken's body running around the barnyard after it's head was cut off!
    Memorizing is overrated.

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  2. Okay, the visual I'm getting of Lynn and Jeanne's out of control leg movements is making my emphysema laugh rumble to a full roar! Are there videos available for rental??

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