My Piano, November 2010 Update

I need to keep a record of what’s been happening with my piano, as every time someone comes to look at it, I forget what work has been done!

My 15 year old Alex Steinbach piano got it’s first tuning in about 4 or 5 years this week, which is a bit sad. I had left it to wallow for that time while I had other things on my mind, like sorting out my life! For the record, I bought my piano new in 1994 or 1995 for $3995, and it was shipped to Darwin from Tasmania. While in Darwin I looked after it pretty well, getting it tuned every year, sometimes twice due to the monsoonal humidity. After I separated from my husband, the piano sat at my friend Nikki’s house for a year or so, from there the piano was trucked to Brisbane around 2005 for the cost of $880.

While living on the north-side of Brisbane I got it tuned once, and I vaguely remember that tuner saying something about silverfish and a broken string, he left some insect repellents in there which was removed this time around. I started looking for a south-side piano tuner about 12 months ago and it’s taken me this long to get up the courage to get someone in. I narrowed my search to tuners registered at the APTTA site for Queensland. I really wanted to get it done before I was 20 weeks pregnant, because that’s when the baby can hear in the womb, but I am 28 weeks now so I have left it a bit late.

So last week the piano tuner I had decided upon, a local musician called Martin Holmes, comes in and says it’s not worth tuning because all the felts on the keys have been eaten, probably by silverfish, and need to be replaced first. This of course tripled the price and really threw me at the time, although in hindsight it shouldn’t have surprised me that much. It has been sitting idle for a long time, afterall.  I was very nervous that this man unknown to me was taking out all my keys, to take away and refit some new felts, which apparently is a very fine and detailed job to do, and would take more than the weekend to complete. I had to utilise several anti-worry techniques that I’ve been taught this year  by my counsellor to get through the week, lol!

So this time around, the key bushes have been re-felted by hand. A string has broken and will need to be replaced when the part arrives in a week or two. There is a spare broken string wound up in the bottom of the piano which might have been the original of another string which had been replaced at some earlier date. The piano has been vacuumed out, so next time we can see any new dust. Thankfully, the piano is sounding very nice again, I think Martin has done a good job, and I can’t wait to get stuck back into my playing.

Now it’s finally done, and I can start with my planned repertoire of children’s songs, a basic piano course and some improvisation. As long as I don’t need that bottom A with the broken string too much over the next fortnight, I should be right!

Paper Lady in a Red Dress

This is a very special memento from my old life as a professional vocalist in Darwin.

In 2001 and 2002 I was studying voice as part of a Bachelor of Music at the now Charles Darwin University (it was called the Northern Territory University back then). I was attempting to finish this extra degree for which I would get a lot of exemptions, the main challenge was completing the musical performance units which would take 3 years part-time.  The main reason I was doing this was because I had a highly desirable job at the Northern Territory Music School as a vocal and choir teacher, something that was coveted by other teachers and I was exceptionally lucky to have. So the pressure was on me to prove myself and that I deserved my place there.

It was during this time that I did some unpaid performance work, where prior to that I had always been paid. My voice lecturer was a wonderful lady called Kathy Banks, she was absolutely amazing and lovely. So of course, when she asked me if I was available for a Gilbert and Sullivan production she was directing I accepted! It was a showcase of excerpts from Gilbert and Sullivan musicals, I would play the part of Peep-bo, one of the three little maids in the Mikado excerpt. It was so much fun. I was glad I made it clear I didn’t want the lead so I was able to enjoy it and lend comfort to the other performers, as many of them had not performed before a large audience before. This was held in the Darwin Entertainment Centre, and I’m not sure how big the audience was maybe several hundred or more. This paper lady in a red dress was given to me as a thank you gift, and it is such a special memento for me to cherish now I no longer do that kind of work.

Of course, I don’t perform any more so this is a mere memory from my past. It’s so very special for me that I still have this, after so much else I have lost. It is a memory of a fun event during a very hard time for me. I was in the process of leaving my husband, and by mid-2003 a colleague had committed suicide so my world pretty much fell apart from that point and I didn’t finish the third year performance units.  I didn’t show up for my mid third year exam as it was a week after that terrible event, then I pulled out of the rest of third year altogether and left Darwin for good 12 months later. At least I had successfully finished my end of second year exam with a very difficult 50 minute performance. It was opera and included pieces in Italian and German as well as English, it was the hardest performance I’ve ever done. I have never rehearsed so much for anything in my life, rehearsing once or twice every single day for over 2 months so ended up doing very well. I was determined not to make a fool of myself and just had to grit my teeth and do it, it was very hard. I did all this while I was secretly planning to leave my husband without him knowing as I was scared for my safety, rehearsing at home everyday while still living with him. No one I know now came to see my exam, my family was busy, and there is no video of it which is a real shame but at least I can remember it.

Looking back I can’t believe how I possibly got through that time in my life as well as I did, despite it being one big mess. But special memories like Kathy Banks and these performances remind me I am probably stronger than I think I am! Thanks to Kathy and the kind people that I knew back then I someone how got through a terrible period of my life. ❤ ❤ ❤

Seeing Pink

Throughout my life, I’ve owned several pairs of rose-coloured glasses. What started off as a performance costume item become something of a ‘statement’! This is my post for this week’s Pink Saturday which is hosted by Beverly @ How Sweet the Sound.

The first pair of pink sunglasses I bought cost me $10 I think, and it was an impulse buy. It was during a period of time that I was collecting brightly coloured items to add to the performance costumes for my children’s entertainment group called the ‘Tootee Fwoots’. My business was often employed to provide family entertainment, mostly by the city councils in Darwin and Palmerston for ‘Fun in the Park’ days and events, and sometimes by the shopping centres and sports clubs for their family days.

One day, my normal pair of sunnies broke, and I couldn’t bare to go out into the daylight without a pair, especially in Darwin after I’d had a late night! I did have this pair of rose-coloured glasses, so chucked them on. I loved how they made the bright cloudless blue sky a pretty shade of lavender, and decided I should make a statement! During the day I was working as an early childhood teacher, so I needed to stay positive and chipper and these glasses were just the ticket!

Eventually, my first pair of pink glasses broke, but I kept one of the pink lenses as a memento. It now lives in my small blue trinket box where tiny special memories are collected. After I bought the first pair and fell in love with them, I tended to buy any cheap pink glasses I came across. I think the pink ones here with the thick plastic frames might have only cost me $5! I still have these two pairs left, but I don’t wear them any more. But I think it’s important to remember that period of my life, when I was free and brash. Some people thought I was a bit strange for wearing pink sunglasses, but plenty more people understood what I was saying, that it was a tongue-poke at a silly world that took itself too seriously.

Now, I think back to the time when I used to wear pink sunnies. It was a good time, but there does come a point when we must take off our rose-coloured glasses to look at the world and accept it for what it is. I am learning to sit with it, look at it, not to buy into it, not to argue with it, for the world is as it is. But sometimes, seeing the Pink is not a bad thing either, and good to keep in mind, to come back to and remember.

Be sure to check out pretty pinks @ Pink Saturday.

❤ ❤ ❤

Free Jazz and Shiraz Concert

I’ve heard of Outdoor Wednesday, which is another tag-along blog which would be good for me to participate in. Go to “A Southern Daydreamer” for more details.

Every week I would like to write about my progress with getting back outside to do stuff on my own again, and I’m happy to say last week has been a good start! The highlight of out-of-the-house activities for me last week was the free Jazz and Shiraz concert put on by the Logan City Council at the Kingston Butter Factory. I had so much fun! Although of course I didn’t go on my own, David came with me.

The mellow crowd were just our style, the food was better than your usual hotdogs and hamburgers, and shiraz was for sale by the glass so I got two! We had oven-fired pizza which was made with a portable pizza oven right before our eyes! We also tried the “roo on a stick”, which was a succulent sample of kangaroo fillet skewered and cooked to perfection. This was particularly good for me, it’s been very hard to get good kangaroo steak since moving to Brisbane. The outdoor event reminded me of Darwin, but thankfully no real home-sickness to speak of, although these kinds of concerts  are something I do miss from my old home. Even though the food was a little on the expensive side, it was well worth it, and the concert itself was free so it was a cheap night out all up.

Then of course, there was the music. We only got to see three of the four acts, we saw all of the performance by The West End Composers Collective, which funnily enough isn’t mentioned on their website. It’s a pity as I was trying to find out the name of the vocalist, with whom I was very impressed and that doesn’t happen often with vocalists! I figure if I can sing something, its a bit ‘meh’ for me, but in all my time singing, even at my most prime, I Never sounded as good as this vocalist. Her quality of tone was outstanding, like liquid honey, and she was very apt at the jazz scat, which I found hard to do myself when studying it. I thought her name was Holly something… but maybe it was Hannah? I’m not sure, but well worth the effort to get out of the house to hear this live! Another good thing about this trip was that we tried out our new Go Cards for the first time when we caught the train, and my verdict is that it was terrific! I’ll be getting back on the trains on my own in no time, I’m sure!
Thanks for listening ❤ ❤ ❤