My Love Affair….with the Piano….

I’ve written a lot about my musical background, including my shady days as a bar-fly, but music still is my heart’s desire, even at my age. I grew up with piano music in my house, and as a small child, I think I just assumed everyone’s mother played the piano like mine did. I must have thought every house had a piano, just like a sofa or dining table. I didn’t know that not everyone heard the music of Chopin, Beethoven or Rachmaninoff being played in their own living room. What wonders these kids missed out on, for sure!

So, of course, I think the piano is the best musical instrument ever invented by mankind. The piano, under the right touch, can produce any style of music, from classical to ragtime to country to pop. Nothing against guitarists, because I do know some really awesome players, but I feel the piano outshines them all. My mother, who is a mere 18 years older than me, has such a lyrical, melodic style that I have tried to emulate for 50+ years, without success. She was classically trained and it shines through in whatever she plays. Someone once described my style as “Broadway”, but I think it’s Broadway meets country meets Southern Baptist……it just depends on where and what I’m playing.

My talent is just a shade past its prime these days, as arthritis has made my hands slow and my fingers clumsy; and my style has become simpler, less adorned….playing safer means fewer mistakes. It breaks my heart at times, because I love to sit down and play; and now I get a little frustrated because of the limitations. Ah, well….such is life, though. I’m still blessed to be able to play and I’m thankful that my mother shared her knowledge with me at an early age and instilled in my heart my love of good music.


All Cows Eat Grass?????

All Cows Eat Grass….Every Good Boy Does Fine…..

Anyone who has ever taken a piano lesson will remember these phrases meant to help you learn your lines and spaces. I’ve known them since I was 5 years old, maybe even before that. Possibly even before I was born!

My mother played piano, and taught piano lessons from the time I was a small child, so I heard these on a daily basis in my home. I thought everyone’s mother played the piano, and I thought every child took piano lessons. I think every child should take piano lessons. I think every home should haveĀ  music.


I began my love/hate relationship with the piano at the tender age of 5, my mom patiently tried to teach me. I admit, I was not a good student at the time. I preferred to sit in the corner of the room and listen as she instructed other students, and then when they left, I would proceed to play what they had learned.

Maybe I was a bit of a show off?

Mom gave up and sent me to her teacher, one seemingly ancient lady named Thelma Braun. Thelma lived in a grand 2 story house in town, that she had filled with the most interesting furniture and accessories that I had ever seen, along with a beautiful grand piano. She was a very intimidating teacher to me, and she finally dismissed me because I would not practice. I took more lessons with her when I was about 16, but my boyfriend would drive me there, and I was more concerned about my plans after the lesson was over, so once again, I was dismissed. I absolutely regret not studying and applying myself, and for letting down this teacher. She was a legend in my hometown, and left a legacy when she died, The Thelma Braun Foundation, which supports the arts and music. I hate to admit that I am possibly her only failure!

Thelma Braun

My mom was still studying with Thelma after she married and was also teaching her own students at the same time. In 1958 they gave a joint recital, I think I remember it. Maybe I think I remember it because I have the recital program?

An Evening of Music 1958












Mom’s students gave a recital the next year or so, at our church and I chose not to participate. Stage fright… Somewhere I have a photo of the students, all the girls in their fluffy best dresses and boys in suits and ties….like a time capsule of the 1950s….

So, my mother has retired, several times, from several jobs, but keeps going back to work! She’s like a steam roller, you just cannot stop her! Her latest job, is teaching piano again. She has a few students each week, at a new studio in my hometown. It’s very easy for her, they provide the piano, the room, book the students, collect the money, she just shows up, teaches the lesson and collects her money from the studio! She really enjoys teaching and sharing her knowledge and love of music with anyone who is willing to learn.











Over my lifetime, I’ve had so many people ask me to give piano lessons, and I’ve declined every time. Even though I possess the knowledge, it takes a special person to teach successfully, and I’m not that person.

I did get over my stage fright in the 1980s……I’m ready for my piano recital now!

My hat is off to Thelma Braun, and my mother Clover Kimberling….thank you for instilling the love of music in me, I am a better person for having learned from the best.


All Cows actually DO Eat Grass!