I’ve scheduled my first lesson for one week from today. In between now and then I get to go violin shopping, and I’m looking forward to being in a music store again. I remember going often as a child, first while accompanying my younger sister on quests for piano stuff, then for my own violin stuff. What I remember most about the place was the baby grand player piano the store always had running in the basement.
We had a babysitter growing up during the summers. She took us swimming and on myriad errands, all in her ancient VW Beetle. We often ended up back at her house, a big old dusty four square of the type common in Wichita’s older neighborhoods. Second only to the giant trampoline in the backyard as a diversion for us kids were the many player pianos the house contained.
Our babysitter would load up a scroll or a disc (depending on the model) and the piano would play some old sentimental tune, the kind almost everyone can sing along to: Soundtrack Americana. Of course we sang our hearts out. There were a couple of Nickelodeons as well, those players that kick it up a notch with drums and other instruments built right into the console, cranking out a mechanical symphony, or, more likely, a march.
The players were there because her dad repaired the anachronisms for a living. It was the perfect house for it – the whole place seemed mired in the past. Unlike the old players, which tended to display their workings proudly, that house kept a lot of secrets – secrets only ever alluded to in whispers, even when we did eventually learn about them, many years later, as adults.
Thanks for reading.