Our Piano.

Our Piano.

Hi there.
Thanks for popping in!
Everything is set for the HOCHANDA TV Show 
2-4pm Sunday.
Looking forward to it!
Friday’s blog a private peek.
It’s all a bit manic here to be honest, so I am going to switch off from work if you don’t mind,
and tell you about something completely different.
Our Piano.
Have I ever told you that we have an old piano?
It’s a beaut.
I bought it at an auction in San Francisco,
when we lived there many years ago.
It was a charity auction WEAVE,
Women Escaping A Violent Environment.
Good cause, important cause. 
Anyway, back to the piano. 
When my marriage ended over there,
the kids and I came home to England –
and the piano came with us!
it’s a Grand Upright and weighs a ton.
it’s been called a lot of things by various people who 
have helped move it over the years!
Here we see Grace and Mark 
using it as a climbing frame back in the States!
Mark’s had enough…

Get me down!!!
Ahhh.. look what I just found…

Grace always loved dressing up!

Anyway, back to the piano. 
The kids and I had piano lessons for years.
Every Tuesday evening.
Mark was probably the only one of us 
who actually retained anything!
When we moved it to this house, 
we had to take a wall down to get it through the back door!
Lots of sweating and swearing then too, as I recall.
And now it has sat for years in the corner,
unloved and unplayed.
Well, I have decided I want to start again.
I want to learn how to play the piano again.
I did enjoy it – I just never made enough time to practice. 
Trouble is, it really needs tuning.
So I googled a local piano tuner this week,
called his number and left a message, 
asking him to call back and arrange a time.  
As I hung up the phone, I scrolled down the Screen blurb 
on piano tuners in the area, and came across a newspaper article about the gentleman I had just called.
So I clicked to read on…
His story stopped me in my tracks. 
He is completely blind. 
His blindness was caused when he was born prematurely.
Apparently the incubator let him down. Over-exposure to oxygen. 
His twin died at six weeks.
According to the article, he is also a musical wizard;
trained in music at the Royal Blind School in Shrewsbury,
came third in the National Radio 4 Quiz Counterpoint in 2011.
It’s amazing isn’t it,
what you find out when you stop and take the time.
I have been thinking about him all week, actually. 
I take my sight so very much for granted. 
It is definitely deteriorating, but hey!
Glasses can correct that!
Imagine being blind though. 
No paint, no colours, no art!
I ought to go blindfold for a whole day, just to get a glimpse,
an insight into that darkness.
Makes you think, doesn’t it. 
As I have been prepping and working on my own up 
in my art room, 
I have been thinking about just how vital my eyesight is ! 
Yet this man found his creativity channel through music.  
Apparently, he’s fully booked through to the New Year,
so my piano practice is on hold until then…
I wonder if he teaches too….
love & peace.

57 thoughts on “Our Piano.

  1. What a coincidence! I received a phone call today from a voice coach who would like to work with me to get my mask voice back. At 52 I have impressed someone and last month I also decided to learn piano, there wasn't the money when I was a child and then life took over but it is never too late as they say. Now I have me 5 piano tuners in my life and they have all been born blind and found their talent in life. We can't put ourselves in their shoes ever because to them being blind is NORMAL, we can only imagine what it must be like to be blind as a person who has already seen what the world has to offer but music/sound has colour that we can feel and sense! Good luck with the piano, you will love it and be creative in a different way. Sing-a-longa Barb coming up?! Really looking forward to Sunday shows, had sneeky peek at Hochanda website and very excited now! Lots of love Vanessa XX

  2. Ooh Barbara how exciting! I miss playing the piano. I was never brilliant but it came in very useful in my teaching. My piano went last year. We needed the room & i struggled to play with my arthritis. Still use the skills it taught me tho!
    Enjoy rediscovering your piano. It can be amazing. Xxxx

  3. Good for you! I took piano lessons when I was a child and I can still play, like a child! I don't have a piano but occasionally have a go on my keyboard which has a full sized keyboard , and I really enjoy it! It was my Grandma who played and sent me for lessons and she was registered blind. I spent loads of time with her when I was little, she was amazing! I don't have many childhood memories except of her (and my Granddad until he died in 1964). I still remember where she kept everything in her house – the drawers, shelves, pantry etc. As she had to feel everything and if we went out, I was her eyes. She used to do her washing in an old cement copper with a fire underneath then put it through a big mangle. She used to turn the handle and I used to feed the clothes through. I kept my fingers too! Anyway, I digress – she knew a piano tuner who was blind too! I will be watching Sunday! xxx

  4. My father was a piano tuner to trade and I remember us as a family being made to practice our singing and playing different musical instruments on Sundays. My dad at the piano, me and the other 7 kids. I also remember being hit on the head with the piano tuning fork…..as if that could make me sign in key lol. None of us took up the piano as we all had short stubby fingers…we have a few guitarists, trumpeter, drummer and I am excellent on the tambourine and triangle lol
    My last singing bit was singing solo at the opening of Meadowbank Stadium in Edinburgh….. Gosh that WAS a long time ago. I think nowadays I will just stick to crafting!
    Thank you for the memory and for sharing yours Barbara. Hugs. Emma xx

  5. My father was a piano tuner to trade and I remember us as a family being made to practice our singing and playing different musical instruments on Sundays. My dad at the piano, me and the other 7 kids. I also remember being hit on the head with the piano tuning fork…..as if that could make me sign in key lol. None of us took up the piano as we all had short stubby fingers…we have a few guitarists, trumpeter, drummer and I am excellent on the tambourine and triangle lol
    My last singing bit was singing solo at the opening of Meadowbank Stadium in Edinburgh….. Gosh that WAS a long time ago. I think nowadays I will just stick to crafting!
    Thank you for the memory and for sharing yours Barbara. Hugs. Emma xx

  6. Piano tuners are amazing aren t they, many seem to be blind. I have re entry gone back to trying to teach myself again! ( I failed my grade 2 when I was 16)! This failure was announced to the entire school! I did not play again. When my mum died 18 months ago we played her favourite piano piece ' farewell to Stromness' it's beautiful. It has inspired me to sit down at the piano again and try and learn it. It's suprisingly relaxing trying. Looking forward to HOCHANDA on Sunday X X X X

  7. Hello Barbara

    What an inspirational man. My Grandmother and my Mother went blind in their later years. Both with wet macular degeneration. As this can be hereditary I sometimes find my way around the house with my eyes shut! I don't like the idea that I would be unable to craft. I am not musical at all. Lol.


  8. When one of your senses is compromised they say the others are heightened. I love watching people play the piano well, I've tampered with an electronic keyboard bit that's as far as it went. I used to be able to play classical guitar but that was many moons ago at Primary school. I've fancied having a go at the violin, love to listen to it being plated but alas that would take away precious time for crafting and I don't have enough as it is.

    Looking forward to Sunday. My clarity order was delivered early doors this morning at work, blooming fantastic, thank you so much to you and the whole clarity team, huge pat on the back xx

  9. Wwlovely story about the piano tuner. 2 of the granddaughters are getting a piano for Xmas so they are having lessons just now. Would like to learn as well so who knows I might just join you next year Barbara and learn how x

  10. I too remember a blind piano tuner in the Stoke on Trent area, just amazing. My Brother lost his sight at 70 because of a brain tumor which was discovered too late to save his sight. I started going deaf in my late 50's and I often say to my brother I am glad that I haven't lost my sight as a life without crafting is unimaginable.

    1. Hi, are you a Stokie too. That's where I'm based. Perhaps we should send out a call to all Stoke on Trent based Clarity followers and have a get together in the new year.
      We all had piano lessons in our family, as well as a string quartet between the four of us (my younger sister and I on violin, my twin sister on the viola and little brother on the cello). My main instrument is, however, the humble recorder; we were lucky enough at high school to have a music teacher who was a recorder specialist. I remember the recorder consort taking their grade 8 exam when we were in the 6th form. I must admit I really miss making music with a group – especially playing the recorder. My brother was and is the talented musician in the family – he took up the oboe at 14 and played in the National Wind Orchestra. He still plays with semi professional orchestras in Canada where he lives now, as and when required and when he can fit it in with his day job.

  11. My Mum and my Uncle played the piano by ear. My Uncle played at a lot of family parties. I'd have liked to have played but unfortunately the piano was chopped up because it had wood worm in it. My sister had a few lessons but she was naughty and didn't turn up a few times so that was the end of that. My Daughter is being taught and her two children and they are all taking their exams. They are also learning violin. Lovely to play a musical instrument must give so much satisfaction. Good luck to you Barbara it's never too late. Fascinating about the piano tuner being blind, hope you find a good teacher.xxx

  12. It used to be a very common occupation for a blind man (never heard of a woman doing it, for some reason) to become a piano tuner. I think the women were trained for switchboard work. Certainly, our piano tuner years ago was totally blind. He did have one strange quirk in that he would never tune any piano up to concert pitch, masquerading them a semitone lower. I used to enjoy playing although I never really learned to read music or even count. I got away with it by getting my teacher to play each new piece and then playing from memory and by ear. Strangely, Bec did exactly the same when she learned to play the flute, and was very puzzled when I picked her up on it. I hope you enjoy learning to play again. xxx Maggie

  13. Hi Donna, Diane, Sheila, Brenda and Dot, hope you're all ok. Hope your hearing is coming back Donna and that you are managing to make a start on your cross stitch Brenda. Still got this cold, must like me it doesn't want to leave. Love and hugs to you all.xxx

  14. Hi Barbara
    Lovely family photos, Grace looks so like you, such happy smiley children. I had to smile at the piano moving story, I've inherited my grandparents pianola which is bloomin heavy and took 8 men and lots of swearing to get up the steps and into our lounge! I loved peddling it when I was a child and one day when I have oodles of money and can find someone I'm going to get it fixed – Emma plays if as a piano occasionally but I didn't enjoy lessons as a child. Our piano tuner was blind too- they are a majority I believe. I worked with visually impaired children at school and one little girl could play the piano beautifully – she has had many a person in tears at school with her talent and we would often stop to hear her play – she really is amazing and I hope will go far. What lovely memories for yes all your blog evokes ! Enjoy your weekend before the show.
    Love Diane xxxx
    Hi Donna xxx
    Hi Sheila xxxx
    Hi Brenda xxxx
    Hi Dot xxxx
    Hi Pam xxxx
    Hope everyone is ok xxxxxx

  15. I to knew of a blind piano tuner where I used to live in Surrey and they are probably the best at it as they must acquire a much more heightened sense of sound as others have said and therefore will tune the instrument much more accurately I should think. I think in some ways it must be much more difficult to accept and cope with if you lose your sight and not be born without it as you will really miss all the beauty there is in the world and crafting would be well nigh impossible which I would find unbearable. I learnt a little when I was taking my O Level music exam as it helped me to understand the music theory, but my music since then has been made through singing, and I have done so since school days, in operatic societies and choirs and I also do a bit of solo singing when the opportunity presents itself. Music is a wonderful pastime and I'm sure you will really enjoy taking up the piano again. I am looking forward to Sunday! x

  16. Oh how lovely! if I had 3 wishes one of them would be to play the piano. My mum did so many exams when she was at school but never carried it on and always wished shed did. The little boy across the road, he's 5, has just started learning and I think he has the talent for it. Perhaps he'll teach me ! I did have an organ as a child and other keyboard type things where I could play the tunes written out in the books – one handed of course! Kept me occupied for hours. I wonder if that's why I liked typing ! Good luck with it Barbara!

  17. I love how you take so much interest and inspiration from the people you come across.
    Of course I love crafting but have to admit music is my great love – ooh plus grandsons naturally. It was a retirement ambition to have piano lessons, no money when I was young. I stuck with the lessons for 4 years and really liked playing but decided I would never make Carnegie Hall or even Grade 2, and the practice time was too demanding. However I can use it to learn music for my two choirs and that means so much to me.
    Your piano tuner sounds amazing. Have an enjoyable and successful weekend.

  18. Hi Barbara. My husband (44) and my dad (69) have both just started learning the piano too and have chosen Alfred's piano course (all-in-one course/book)which seems easy and fabulously well explained. Totally recommend that until you get yourself a teacher. Good luck. X

  19. Hi Barbara, Grace and Mark must have had an amazing childhood with you as their mum.
    Our school piano tuner was blind too. Years ago they didn't have the ability to regulate or monitor how much oxygen was given, it was basically all or none. And often it was a case of don't give oxygen and the infant will definitely die or suffer severe brain damage, or give oxygen and risk causing permanent blindness. My granddad played the piano, organ and accordion by ear, never had any lessons, and couldn't read music. I wanted a go but he was a bit possessive so I didn't get much of a chance. I was asked to join the school chamber choir. I don't think I can sing but apparently he didn't just choose anyone and for me and a couple of my classmates to be handpicked from his general music class was a rare occurrence. I just said yes because the other 2 said yes, so I followed them! We even sung in St Giles once, that was amazing, but weird too as there is a huge echo in that place so at our first practise we started singing and then the echo came back at us and made us all stop in our tracks, the first time we'd heard how we sounded – we actually sounded far better than I thought we did!!! No one's heard me sing on my own ever, I would only sing when I was on my own. I did try to learn the violin in secondary too, very badly, I was rubbish and rubbish at practising too. It's a hard instrument to learn because there are no guidelines for where you put your fingers on the strings.

    Our leader in the ranger guides was blind. She once got us to go blindfolded in pairs, where one was blindfolded and the other guiding, and we had to go outside, cross roads, and use the bus and stuff. It was soooo scary and made me really appreciate having sight. It's the sense I would be sooo scared to lose. I really don't know how people who are blind cope with life so successfully. Life is scary enough when you can see. This lady knitted, even things like fair isle, amazing eh. I once went on a weekend away with a few partially sighted girls and one totally blind girl from the blind school next door. We were sent to the local shop to work out and buy dinner for everyone. It was a looooong walk and we took our time so by the time we were on the road back it was getting dark, and no street lights! Totally changed world. On the way there we were the eyes for the girl who was blind and where needed for those partially sighted. Once it got dark, especially when we were walking through the woods the blind girl was holding onto me, supporting me – helping me along in the dark and reassuring me every time I jumped at a noise! Then to watch someone totally blind using a sharp knife and finely chopping an onion up, amazement doesn't do it justice I learned one of life's valuable lessons that day. I think joint things like this should be routine for kids as it's the best way to learn and appreciate and see beyond, for sure.

    Love Brenda xx
    p.s. thank you everyone for your kind messages yesterday xx

    1. My sister-in-law had to spend a week staying at the blind school at Lickey for her DofE award and she had a similar experience. When the girls got up in the morning, they would rush around in the dark. They knew exactly where they were while my sister-in-law was falling over everything. I quite agree, Brenda, everyone should have experience of sharing lifestyles. xxx Maggie

    2. Morning Brenda was a bit nackered last night so missed one of my favorite places to be till this morning. Love reading your wee stories you do have some wee lovely memories and you do write them in a lovely way.
      Our wee Amy was born premature at 1lb 4oz and we were warned if she survived she might be blind or deaf but thank god that wasn't the case and her other wee problems we can cope with she is our wee miracle.
      Take care see you later… Dot xx

  20. What a lovely story, not that the wonderful man is blind but the way he has made something of his life. I too should hate to lose my sight all the crafts I would not be able to do. My husband was made to have piano lessons when he was young, did not do any good sadly. He has a wonderful voice though, was a choir boy in Tewkesbury Abbey. As for me I am tone deaf. Gorgeous pictures of your children by the way. xx

  21. Coming from an extremely musical family, I remember as a child, our piano tuner was also blind. However, I am the black sheep of the family, and the only thing I can play is my face. I do love to listen to music being played, and sometimes wish I could join in, but I'm happy to do my art instead. I will miss you on Sunday, so I'm hoping the show will be shown again when I can watch it. X

  22. Hi Barb,
    Lovely tale and the photos of Grace and Mark are adorable – I remember seeing them once before. – I think it was when you were telling us about the alphabet stamps or something. I would love to be able to play the piano. I learned the clarinet when I was at secondary school and taught myself a bit of guitar. I also bought an accordion about 20 years ago and decided to teach myself. I really struggled to get the bellows to work properly – they were so hard to pull apart. Then I discovered there was an air button that you pressed and they just sort of fell open! Then, I moved onto the keys and buttons- well that was a whole new ball game! I tried one doing and couldn't understand why it didn't sound right only to discover I had the accordion on the wrong way round! Needless to say I gave up after this! I still have the accordion though virtually brand new. I am now trying to teach myself keyboard and can get a tune out of it but need lots of practise I have to say, but I do enjoy it. Hope you get on well with your lessons when they begin. Looking forward to the shows – the new Groovi plates look fabulous – I can feel a purchase coming on. Love Alison xxx

  23. I think that most creative persons would love to be able to play an instrument or two and as much as I would I couldn't do that at the cost of my art. As for singing when I'm singing along to a tune it's not a problem but if I'm trying to sing nice it sounds awful, think of cats! Karen x

  24. Well done you Barbara – I used to play, was never that good, but my Mum was a professional accompianist. My brother got all the exams up to grade 8 and could play be ear. My mum couldn't play by ear, but could play any piece of music put in front of her without practice! Phew.

    Christmas and New Year was always great in our house when we had huge parties, which would end up with mum on the piano. In fact the piano played a great part in my life, as the day my husband asked to take me home from a friend's house (52 years ago yesterday), we had been sitting in his lounge whilst he was at the piano, and we were singing bawdy rugby songs! rofl!

    I am wondering if the blind man was the one that used to come and tune Mum's piano, as we are not that far from you – I think he used to come quite a way by taxi to do the tuning. He was brilliant (If you can – get the piano tuned to concert pitch, then when you get could you can play and sing along to the radio, cd etc at the same pitch.

    This has reminded me that the family piano is still at my daughter-in-laws house – must kick start my son to get it removed to his house, and then I will organise for it to be tuned, and tin turn my fingers can wander over the ivories again! Mags x

  25. I learnt to play the piano from 5yrs. Our piano tuner was also blind. He was brilliant. I do believe they are better skilled for the job.
    Good luck with the lessons. It's another way of channeling your brain to think only of the moment. Wonderful! So rewarding!

  26. Lovley photos of grace and mark I'm so looking forward to Sunday's show .
    My real dad went deaf when I was born I was his ears as I got older and told him what others said
    He was a wonderful dad never complained just got on with life he died 28 years ago I still miss him
    My husband went blind at 40 and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis it was a very scary time
    He is no longer with us
    I have many illnesses now and have now got a cataract in my left eye I would not know what to do if I couldn't craft again I'm blessed I still can .
    Hugs to all on the blog xxx

  27. Some lovely family photos ,,. Also loved the story about the blind man ,,. Good luck at the weekend , will not be able to watch as going away for a couple of days,,xx

  28. Oh Barbara – you have insight! I have read your blog over and over. I have had a week of Domestic Violence cases to start with and then well – the piano tuner. We had one when I was a child learning piano – he too was a genius. After my day -week with the MOJ (miscalled maybe MOC….. – work that one out if you dare!!!!) – I reflect on your blog and just off to bed – with blessings from you, for that I have. That is all that I have to be thankful for. Thank you so much. I will go to bed more relaxed, thankful, grateful and so pleased to have you to make me think. I do hope you see this comment. You have given me, again inspiration and tonight tranquility. I cannot really express in words how I feel having read this blog. If you were in my head you would understand but that a side – my gratitude is just, i don't know – immeasurable.
    One very contented blogger.
    Anne (Reading)

  29. By the way MOC…… for anyone reading was not RUDE! it was rather – if you think of a ringmaster. I would not want to be sacked!!
    Love Anne x

  30. Missed your blog last night fb was not loading any way there use to be an elderly couple in Godmanchester they had a music shop he too tuned pianos they were amazing they new what money you paid with don't tell me how put felt the tenpins note and new I used to love popping in there hope they were so close it was beautiful watching them work. Looking forward to show tomorrow got granddaughters coming any Minuite tree decorating today Christmas starts here xxx

  31. Morning Barbara was babysitting last nught so was a bit shattered when got home but have loved reading your story and seeing the kids pics when they were wee this morning.
    Hope you can manage to fit all this lino cutting piano lessons in with your busy life oh aye a forgot the wedding planning to lol.
    Might just need that help with the CCA bus me thinks lol looking forward to Sunday take care…Dot.xx

  32. Hello Barb, such a lovely blog again today. Fab story about the piano tuner. I can just imagine the blog posts once you start playing again, all set to music? I think we all sometimes take very vital things for granted, which we should not. Looking forward to Sunday. Take care. Bx

  33. What lovely pictures Barbara, probably brought back some good memories. The piano man story is inspiring and I would agree we do take things for granted. I have thought about what the challenges would be to craft with poor or no eyesight. My mum has age related macular degeneration and really struggles sometimes and can no longer sew or do her embroidery/ tapestry. Your blog today is a gentle reminder to be grateful for my eyesight and my hearing so I will be able to really appreciate your tutorials on Sunday.xx

  34. Thanks for sharing your memories my husband played the piano when my dad was in a sanitarium he would play for the men that could get to the parlour great memories love June xxxxx

  35. Hi Barb,

    I see your articles have brought back alot of memories for alot of people, i remember when i was at junior school we had a blind man come and tune our piano, you don't really take any notice when your that age, do you? but what a talant. I too could not imagine what it would be like to loose my sight, i think that is a worse nightmare for me, not to see the wonders of this world, would be a tough thing to deal with, whether it be nature or art of all kinds, we have to use them as much as possible.

    Best Wishes

    Julie Bee

    p.s. I have always wanted to learn the piano .

  36. Hi Barb
    Just had to react to your comments today. My dad had a cousin who went blind after having measels when she was about six, and she went on to learn to play the piano and .also went to a blind school and eventualy taught music.
    At some stage she went to live with another blind lady, she had been born without any eyes and so was blind from birth. They lived on their own and, and dad's cousin did the cooking, how I don't know. I remember going to see her on the day I got marred, I was wearing my wedding dress, and as she always did whenever we went to see her, she said, " Come and let me look at you, and she ran her hands over me from top to toe,

    The only thing we had to do as we were leaving after a visit was to tell them whether the lights were on or off, and during the war, when we had blackouts at night , Doris, the lady with no eyes would always walk us to the bustop, to make sure we got home safely.

    As to the piano tuner, we also had a man who came to tune our piano, and he had been blind since birth.

    Margaret xxx

  37. hI Barb. A very interesting blog and I too am looking forward to tomorrow's TV programme. The story about the blind piano tuner is interesting and brought back memories of when I worked at a college for the school-leaving blind youngsters in Surrey (Hethersrtt College, Reigate). My most memorable experience was a lad who had lost his sight with a brain tumour. He had been studying at The Royal College of Music and had a brilliant career ahead of him. When he came to us, he was refusing to play again and I told him of my love of the piece Rustle of Spring….. Well, some time later, just before he was due to leave us, he invited me into the students lounge and proceeded to play my favourite piece which he had been secretly practising. I was moved to tears. Sadly, shortly after leaving, he passed away but what a memory eh?

  38. Lovely photos Barbara – thank you for sharing. Good luck with the piano lessons – I played as a child, and when I started my great auntie Elsie told me that I had to stop biting my nails, as everyone would watch my hands when I played! It worked!!!

  39. Hello Barbara and everyone at Clarity
    This article today made me cry for many reasons. You see last October my mum becqme ill with very sore head and jaw and was being treated for an ear infection but unfortunately this was the wrong diagnosis as she was later to discover she had Giant Cell Arteritis. She went to bed on an evening after being unwell for more than two weeks and when she got up the next morning she was totally blind in both eyes. Of course this has not only affected my mum but my dad who is now 24 hour carer and also the rest of the family.
    I had only started card making and stamping in May of that year and was looking forward to making cards for her birthday, Christmas, mother's day etc. She has never seen any of the things I have made but I try to make my cards tactile, embossed, die cut etc.
    I think of all our senses sight is the most precious and to lose it at an elderly age is devastating and life changing in so many ways. She doesn't want to do anything anymore and hardly goes out.
    I hope your piano is tuned soon and you enjoy refreshing your piano skillsl. I have pencilled in my "to do" list to come to a Clarity event/workshop next year.

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