By Phil Scovell
I began playing the piano at age seven. I had to get up an half
an hour early so I could get my practice time in before going to
school. Many times I remember trying to read the notes and see the
keys through blurry morning vision. I played on an old, and I do mean
old, upright piano.
My dad, who was still living at that time, was a good carpenter.
Over a period of several weeks, he was able to remove all the dark
ugly chipped black paint surface. He repainted it with a light blonde
color and then installed some fancy mirrors about six or seven inches
tall which went around the entire top of the piano. It was a
beautiful piece of furniture by the time he finished. There was only
one problem. As pretty as it looked, it sounded terrible. The
sounding board was cracked, we were told, and it could not be properly
tuned under any circumstances. The piano served its purpose and we
owned it for many years and thousands of hours of practice were
conducted by my older sisters and myself as well as my mom. In all
the years we owned it, that piano had been moved to four different
homes, in two different states, and survive.
As I aged, so did our piano. by the time I was in my early
teens, I was taking lessons from a college music professor and
learning a lot. I was required to practice a minimum of six and a
half hours a week. I enjoyed it and often practiced longer than the
During these years, the piano was beginning to show its wear.
Unfortunately for me, one of the keys ceased functioning right in the
middle octave of the instrument. It didn't create a problem
performing all my top to bottom scales, but when I had to practice the
songs I had learned, the missing key, or the key that wouldn't play,
caused a great deal of irritation. So, to solve the problem, I began
playing all my songs an octave higher. Try and not get ahead of my
Finally the big day came. Although I was only 14 years old, my
piano teacher taught at a nearby Christian Bible college. He
requested that I play one of my songs at a Friday night concert being
held in the school music hall. I was more than a little nervous about
it but said I would play.
When it was my turn, I walked to the piano and sat down. I had
practiced on the beautiful grand piano already so I was used to its
touch and sound. I am not a musician, I don't have perfect pitch, and
I cannot just sit down at the piano and play any song I hear like my
wife does. I love piano, however, but one thing, especially when
playing before an audience, that has always been a problem for me, is
starting out by finding middle C as a reference. I never had this
problem at home, of course, but in front of crowd? Every time. this
time would be no different.
As I began to play, I instantly realized I was an octave higher.
This was normal at home but not here, definitely not here, and
definitely not now with all these professionals listening to every
note. I thought about dropping down an octave but I already felt
ridiculously conspicuous so the last thing I wanted to do is draw more
attention to myself. So, I finished my piece one octave higher than
normal and prayed no one noticed. Fat chance!
After the concert, the other music professor, a much older man
who could not hear what you were saying to him three feet away but
could hear a wrong note played in a piece on the other side of a
massive ampletorium that could seat 30,000 people, came up to
compliment me. I knew better based upon his ear for music. He was a
very kind soft spoken man and I always admired and liked him. His
piano playing was out of this world, too. Fortunately, however, he
wasn't the first in line.
After every other student had come and congratulated me on a job
well done, tongue in cheek, the old music professor strolled up and
shook my hand. He commented on how well I had done but I knew the old
man knew the truth. He finally quietly, so no one else could hear,
said, "You played an octave higher, son. Didn't you?" I told him I
did realize that but was too embarrassed to explain my own piano was
missing a note in the middle of the piano and so I was used to playing
one octave higher. He probably just figured it was due to the fact I
was blind so that's likely why I skipped telling him the truth. Oddly
enough, this same elderly man, would later become my piano teacher,
when four years later, I enrolled in the same Bible college.
Did this little childhood story strike a familiar cord, in a
manner of speaking, in your heart? Have you experienced embarrassment
but were helpless to do anything about it? Have you made any mistakes
that exposed you to chagrin? Have you screwed up so badly that you
were embarrassed to tears and crying made you feel even worse? Sit
down and list all such events in your life. When you have finished,
offer them up to the Lord and commit them to Him. He died on the
cross with all of those things which He bore in your behalf. This
means, of course, you need not carry the pain and hurt of these
feelings any longer. Let Jesus do His job and you just concern
yourself with knowing Him.
Safe Place Fellowship
Mountain Time Zone
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