Timber and That Smelt Like Old Library Books

I’m quite sure that I drove my parents a little bit more insane with each year that passed with my incessant requests for musical instruments. I had been playing the flute for about two years, but with Christmas approaching I had hatched a new musical plan. My parents asked me what I might like and I said: "A piano, please." I remember so clearly the look on my mother's face as it dropped, a look that as a parent now I know to be one of ‘GAH! SHIT! Well that's not going to happen!’

We were never well off, but my parents always worked very hard to provide the best they could for my siblings and I. Dad worked full time and travelled for work and mum was working two jobs so that I could continue my beloved flute lessons and my brother could do karate. We never went without things we needed, but we often went without things we wanted. We never had the latest fancy toys like many of our friends, often had to wait just a bit longer than desirable to have a new pair of shoes because the current pair were still OK, just. We never went on family holidays. We did however always have enough to pay the rent and eat well; mum was absolutely brilliant at making deliciousness from not much, our chickens gave us eggs and we grew most of our own veggies. The important things were taken care of first with very little left for the fun and frivolous. Needless to say, I didn't get a piano for Christmas.

The following September when my birthday rolled around I was asked what I would like as a gift. My response? "A piano, please." 

And? Nothing. Crickets.

When another year rolled by and I was asked the same question, I think they saw the answer coming. Whilst it didn’t make the reality any easier, it did prompt new discussions. My parents and I decided that saving for a piano was an excellent way to spend the busking money that I had been saving. On the morning of my birthday mum took me to a music shop, where they sold all sorts of musical wonders, including second hand pianos. And then the most magical words finally came out of my mum’s mouth: "Julie, this is yours."
There it was. My very own piano.

The piano was made from a stunning walnut timber, had an old fashioned music stand that projected out of the top and was just under 100 years old. I remember so vividly that it smelt just like old library books. It was in beautiful condition and the keys still responded nicely. Due to its age however, it couldn't be brought up to concert pitch but was instead tuned half a step down to hold relative pitch.

On that magical birthday we stayed a while in the shop whilst I happily fiddled away. I had no idea how to play anything but I had a wonderful time working out little melodies. A few days later it was delivered home and, much like the flute, I drove everyone crazy with my constant playing. The downside for my parents was that the piano was too big to be banished outside!

My busking contributions had covered just over a third of the cost and mum had taken on extra shifts for the last year to make this gift a reality. My parents are incredibly selfless people and I'm so thankful for them. That piano changed my life.

By Jo Johnson following conversations with Julie Murray

Jo Johnson from The Content Coach is a Mornington Peinusula based writer with a passion for telling women in bussiness' stories. 

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