Piano Lessons and St Patrick’s Day

This week I took my second daughter to her first ever Piano exam.  I think I may have been more nervous than she was!  Sitting in the waiting room (the vestry room of a church in North Belfast) trying NOT to listen to her playing her pieces, it brought back memories of my piano playing days.

My brothers and I all learned to play the piano from an elderly spinster (maybe she was not that old, but to us she seem prehistoric!) who did not believe in positive praise, and I learned more through fear than through the love of music.

She taught in a small gloomy room crammed full of old victorian furniture and wilting house plants.  There was an open coal fire which was always roaring throughout the year, whatever the weather!  From time to time she would shovel on some “slack” on to the fire, and smoke would billow out and fill the room, making your eyes water and your throat sting.

She would write in our notebooks each week to report back to our parents of our progress:

Sight Reading – Fair
Scales – Very Fair
Minuet – has obviously NOT practiced this…..

On the very odd occasion you would get a “Reasonably Good” for a piece, but that was about it!  I don’t think we were THAT bad, she just did not feel the need for excessive praise.  The worst time would be if you made a mistake in a piece, and she would rap the piano keys with a ruler that she used to keep time. This would startle me so much, inevitabley I would make yet another mistake.

It is a wonder I even stuck at it so long – I made it to Grade 5, but to this day still hate to play if anyone else is in the room! However I do love our piano – it has be passed down through the family and you can read more about it HERE

Fortunately my kids go to a lovely teacher (“Hi Hazel!”) who makes learning the piano and pleasure.

A few piano quotes for you:

‘Life is like a piano…what you get out of it depends on how you play it.’
Tom Lehrer
‘There’s nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays by itself.’
Johann Sebastian Bach
I also learned to play the clarinet at school, but that is a story for another day.

So, my question for you is – did you ever learn to play a musical instrument? Do you still play it today?


St Patrick’s Day is approaching, and regular readers may know that I host a blogging carnival on 17 March.  There will be prizes, so if you plan to post how you celebrate (or how you DON’T!) or you want to find out how we celebrate it, watch this blog!

A bloggy button will be available soon – as soon as I make it!

Finally, I am NOT apologising for not blogging, at least I am trying not to!

Similar Posts


  1. I tired to learn to play the violin once. Gave it up after a few weeks. i’m just not musical. would love to learn to play the guitar though…maybe one day…

  2. I learned to play the piano. I loved it and hated having to give up lessons when I started university. Hoping the boys will learn on the same piano. Also played trumpet but gave it up because I thought it wasn’t really an instrument for girls! Hated carrying it on the bus to school.

  3. I wanted to tell you first that I’ve passed on the Sunshine Award to you. YOu can read it in my blog here: https://chilecats.blogspot.com/2010/02/sunshine-makes-me-happy.html


    I took a few piano lessons from my grandmother long, long time ago. It wasn’t like my family could afford to give me piano lessons or even rent a piano for me so I had to give it up. It’s probably a good thing because to this day, I still can’t read a note of music!

  4. Haha, NO apology needed, just thought I would rib you. After all, one needs to live one’s life to accumulate blog-able stuffs.

    This teaching thing, its right in line with what I hope to post on our OCC Women’s blog tomorrow! So glad you’re back.

    My Mr. did not learn to play piano till in his 20’s so I’m sure he skipped the “meanie teacher” syndrome. I think that was just the way of thinking in that day – that being kind would spoil the child.

    I’ve never learned to play instrument, except my own … the “Kelphorn” which I have not revealed yet on my blog. Perhaps I will have to do this one day soon! I could be persuaded – just have to convince the Mr. to take a video of me “in concert”

    Love, Barb

  5. I learned to play the piano in middle school… my friend and I took lessons from a very nice woman who would always ask our opinion on what her daughter (who was a year younger than us) should wear or do! We only stuck with it for a few years…

    Will be excited to see how everyone celebrates St Patrick’s Day!!

  6. Much like you, I took piano for about 6 years and played clarinet in middle school. Now I pretty much stick with singing and handbells. 🙂

    Excited about your blogging carnival!

  7. I still play the piano – though oddly enough — far better now 30 years after quitting the lessons. My teacher was very nice but she loved to snack on raw onions…

  8. What a lovely piano! I took lessons for 8 years and still play occasionally, though, like you, I can’t play for others (too nervous). My teacher had a big silver-gray buffont and wore bright pink lipstick. I never had a recital. Could explain my fear of playing in public.

  9. I took piano for almost ten years when I was young. It was horrid, mostly because of my mother. I won’t get into details but I promised myself that I would never do that to my children … that if they were interested in music, awesome but if they weren’t, then I would never force it upon them. I think it’s a sin to take something as beautiful as music and turn it into something it was never meant to be. To this day, I have a mental block of everything I learned in those ten years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *