Play Us a Song You’re a Piano Woman

My Mom had high expectations of me. She didn't exert the typical pressure to become the middle class parents' dream of a doctor or lawyer . . .  she always wanted me to be a piano player in a bar. One who could play all of the old bar favorites so people could sing along with their arms around each other, smiling to "Irish Eyes" or crying to songs like "Oh Danny Boy" and putting tips in my jar. I am a disappontment to her. I can play the piano but I'm terrified to play in front of others. That pretty much rules out the whole piano bar thing. I'm no Billy Joel.
laure recital backyard
Yikes! Before the recital, age 11.
Those horrifying piano recitals of my youth were the early death of my career as a piano woman. All dressed up with my family and some additional relatives in tow, we'd take pictures and off to my piano teacher's home we'd go for a recital. Them, with highest anticipation of my new found stardom, me, having difficulty swallowing because my mouth was so dry. My piano teacher was a concert pianist. She was somewhat famous in the Toledo, Ohio area among those who knew about such things. Her standards were high for concerts and that involved memorizing the songs I played. I still remember waiting for my turn on the hot seat, the pre-concert refreshments bubbling inside my stomach. Just writing this has my heart beating faster and scares the shit out of me. God knows what I eventually played when it was finally my turn.
laurie recital at piano
Before the recital in the "hot seat".
The sad thing is that I was pretty good. Also, I loved playing the piano, alone, in my own world imagining I was entertaining a crowd.  Being able to play the piano made me feel special and important. I was the only one I knew besides my piano teacher who played. When my cousins came over I'd teach them "Heart and Soul" or the "Birthday Song" but when they would want to hear "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" or "Scarborough Fair", I'd clench up. If they got distracted and went to play in the other room, I was fine. I did my best work then. When I went to college I got up the nerve to take an elective piano course. The teacher even encouraged me to become a music major. The thought of endless pre-performance sleepless nights and palm sweating recitals with hands full of gibberish were too much to bear.
laurie standing piano
Me and me Knabe.
It doesn't surprise me that I have several friends who could have fulfilled my mother's dream. I am drawn to musicians, still play, for myself, and love to sing which I am not afraid to do for others. I have been in love with a music man or two and my son is one of those people who can play in front of anyone. We have two pianos in our home. One is a player piano that you pump with your feet and it spins out music from old piano rolls. The other is a beautiful Knabe with a sweet strong sound. What if I had no fear? I ask myself this question about so many things lately. I am surprising myself and doing things I never thought I would when I put fear aside. Who knows? Come on over. I'll play a song for you - I'll try not to use my feet! Repack your life with me today. Let's toss out fear!

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