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.

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When I Was a Teenager

Just a few observations about teenagers and misconceptions about life. I became a teenager in 1966, got married in 1970 and dropped out of high school. Just the facts there.

 

 

When I was a teenager:

We weren’t allowed to wear jeans to school. Only “coordinating pant suits”.

We weren’t allowed to wear PANTS to school until I reached high school.

 

We didn’t have air conditioning in classrooms until high school, and then only the “new” wing had a/c.

At our house we had “swamp coolers” which don’t work well in high humidity. Finally got a window a/c unit to cool the living room and kitchen. Not the bedrooms.

 

I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 16. Curious how I ended up married at 17, huh?

On dates, I wasn’t allowed to go to the movies, or to dances. Still curious how I ended up married at 17?

 

I learned to drive in a portable building full of simulators. Kinda like a gigantic video game.

Video games had not been invented yet, so driver’s ed in the simulator, was just … driver’s ed.

 

The only phones we had were wired into the wall in a very open place of the house. Conversations were never private.

The word “cell” was rarely heard outside of science class or the county jail. The word “Text” was the first half of “textbook”….

 

Dragging Main Street was great entertainment on the weekends if you were lucky enough to have a car.

Gasoline was about 22 cents a gallon then.

 

LBJ was not a freeway in Dallas. Richard Nixon was elected President of the United States.

Yes, he really was a crook after all.

 

On Saturdays we washed our hair, rolled it on brush rollers, sat under a hood dryer until our ears burned bright red.

For really special occasions, we wouldĀ  go to the beauty shop for a fancy “up-do”. I have pictures to prove this. šŸ™‚

 

Just normal everyday people, had gun racks in their truck’s rear window, with real guns hanging on them.

No special gun license was needed. Most people had common sense. Most. I am from Texas, after all.

 

I thought people over 30 were ancient and didn’t know anything about my life.

I was wrong. Everyone has been a teenager.

 

 

 

These are just a few things that come to mind, some of the differences between then and now. I work with a lot of teenagers and I hear a lot of the same complaints I made way back then in the prehistoric age. Please share your thoughts with me!

My fabulous, elegant beauty shop up-do for a wedding! I was 15 years old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drifter

Drifter

 

by Debi Snider 1979

this song once had music, which I have totally forgotten,

so now, I suppose it’s just a poem.

Evidently I was full of angst in 1979 .

 

 

She was only sixteen, the summer she met him,

so began their romance with a midnight swim.

He was so much older and she was naive

that everything he told, she always believed.

 

She was only seventeen the day they were wed,

and her mama and her daddy cried softly in their bed.

He was so persuasive that she made a vow to him,

that anywhere he went, she would follow him.

 

She was only nineteen when her daughter came to be

and then when she was twenty he wanted to be free…

he was like a bird and he spread his wings to fly,

then he up and left her without explaining why.

 

He was just a drifter who called no place his home

and if she ever needed him, he was always gone

They all tried to tell her that he’d break her heart someday

but she just turned her head and slowly walked away.

 

She was only twenty one when the little daughter died

and she could see that he was hurt no matter how he tried

to cover up his feelings, when he asked if he could stay….

…..but she just turned her head, and slowly walked away.

 

My Sister’s Porchlight

Once upon a time, way back in the late 1980s, my sister Becky and I became very good friends. It was the first time we had ever really been together much, because I am 16 years older, and she was just 6 months old when I married and moved away from home. So, she and I didn’t grow up together, she grew up with my daughter. Then in 1984 I got divorced…..it was not pretty and it was not easy. My family was upset with me, and to make matters worse, I became a working musician, playing in clubs and bars. But, in 1988, I came back home, to north Texas, settled down somewhat and got a real job. I still played in bars and clubs, but I had a better plan for my future.

My sister had graduated from high school by this time and was waiting tables at a local Mexican restaurant. She was very good at her job and always had cash in her pocket. I was making minimum wage at the fabric store, so I was broke all the time, and there were many times when I would have gone without groceries, except for Becky. Everyone says that sisters share a special bond, I think that’s true. We also share a love of food. And eating.

Becky was always entertaining!

Becky liked to hang out at my little apartment, and we spent lots of time cooking and eating. She bought all the groceries, of course. Sometimes I’d come home from work and she’d be there cooking already, she had a key so she could come and go. We had a blast cooking together, we even made Chinese food once, and it was really good. Funny, I still don’t like Chinese food, but whatever it was that we made that day, was really good. I seem to recall lots of spaghetti, tacos, sloppy joes…..real gourmet food!

My garage apartment was at the end of a long driveway, and we both had to park on the street, so it was very dark between my doorway and the street….and since I felt responsible for my baby sister, I would stand outside my door and shine the flashlight on her as she walked down the drive to her car on the street. That’s how the simple flashlight became the “porch-light” for the two of us. It has been an inside joke for 23 years now. No one else understood, but we did. That was the only thing that mattered. I loveĀ  MMYS…….

PORCH LIGHT!!!!!!!

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.

Debi

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…..lol. 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.

2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

Stupid Things I Have Done…..

Stupid things I have done in my life……and the lessons (if any) that I have learned.

Triple Threat at Lucile's. I am at the piano....

#1. I got married at 17. Barely had a driver’s license. I learned that even though my parent’s could no longer tell me what to do, I now had a jealous, controlling husband who monitored my every move. Took 14 years to learn from that mistake.

#2. I dropped out of high school after I got married. I learned at the age of 31 that I was NOT stupid after all, took the GED test without prep and passed with flying colors. Goooo Debi…..

#3. I got divorced at 31 before I had a game plan….or a job. I learned, eventually, that I COULD work and support myself. Very well, thank you.

#4. I began to drink at the age of 31. I learned that too much alcohol, in spite of creating fun, also makes you feel like death the next morning. I do not like to be sick, so I quit drinking……after 5 years. I take back that line about not being stupid…lol….just a slow learner!

#5. I kissed a lot of frogs. I learned that when you are single, men will lie to you all the time. Yes, they will. I kissed a LOT of frogs before I learned to poke around in their pond to see if there was scum involved.

#6. I drove my little Mazda station wagon down TransMountain Road in El Paso, at the speed of 110 MPH. I learned it was not my time to die, after all. See #4 above. Alcohol was involved.

#7. I moved 700 miles away from my family, for a man. I learned that he loved a lot of women besides me. Took 2 years to learn that lesson. See #4 above. Again.

#8. I was stopped by the police once, leaving a club after an evening of dancing and drinking, and was ticketed for 3 offenses, none of which included drunk driving. I learned to get OUT OF TOWN quick, I moved back to North Texas 3 weeks later!!! I may still be wanted in El Paso for having a burned out light above my license plate. I don’t go there anymore. If you see my picture in the Post Office there, will you pretend you don’t know me?

#9. I smoked marijuana a few times with one boyfriend. I didn’t like it at all. I’m very thankful for that. I couldn’t afford any type of drug habit :-/

#10. Refer back to #2…..I dropped out of school, and even though I have a GED, am fairly smart and can complete a coherent paragraph, I wish, oh so much, that I had gone to college and become “somebody”. I have learned many lessons because of that one decision, and I encourage every young person I meet, to get a good education, so they won’t have to stand on their feet for 40 hours a week the way I do. I am fortunate to have found my niche and truly love my job, but it would be so nice at my age, to just get to sit down for a while!