Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I feel a blog post coming on...

Hello, friends...for that is what you truly are.

If you've been hanging around here for at least a little while, hopefully you've figured out that I have a deep appreciation for things that are old, things that have a story.  I enjoy discovering the heart and soul behind everything that comes into my life--whether it be a new friend, a special dish or a unique piece of furniture.

I don't know if this is recent (since becoming a blogger), part of my training as a journalist, or if I have just always thought this way, but I tend to see small details in life, not as mundane or common, but as significant nuggets of discovery that intertwine to create the grand eternal story line that is my life...and the lives of everyone I know.

A few weeks ago, our family welcomed its newest member:  a 1927 Brambach baby grand piano!

I am so happy with it!  You wouldn't believe how much joy this piano has already brought into my life.  I feel like crying just thinking about how special this piano is...and the special way that it came to reside in our home.  

I had asked for a piano last Christmas.  We looked at one on Craig's list, and it had been badly abused, so we passed.  Then a few weeks ago, a neighbor of mine Facebooked me to tell me that she had seen a piano on Craig's list and thought of me.

When I checked online, I did not see the one that she mentioned, but I saw this one:

Isn't she a BEAUTY?  I mean, seriously.  And the price was nice as well.  I raced over to check it out that same night, and when I heard it play, I fell in love.  A rush of good memories flooded back to me of my mother's beautiful grand piano, the one that we all received lessons from her on as kids.

On the night that we were supposed to move our piano, our friend with the truck was unavailable, so I didn't confirm with any of our other friends about moving it and thought I'd try again the following week.  At about 8pm that night, I realized our friend was actually home earlier than he thought he'd be, so I raced home to get Steve on-board with moving a piano that evening.

Let's just say, he wasn't psyched.  He said, "We don't even know if our friend with the truck can really come, we haven't lined up anyone to help us, we haven't called the owners"...on top of that Steve was tired.  Just then, our doorbell rings, quite unexpectedly.  We open the door to find our new bishop standing on our front porch. He says, "I hear you've got a piano that needs to be moved?  My wife sent me over here...are you still doing that tonight."

Steve starts to send him away, since we don't have the truck lined up...and just as he's walking him out...our friend pulls up...with his long flatbed trailer.  Bingo!  About an hour and a half later the piano was ours!

The next morning, we decided to surprise the children with the piano.  Steve kept them upstairs while I ran down and started playing their favorite Primary songs. They were thrilled.  I find it relaxing personally to sit down and play hymns, and it brings a very noticeable added measure of the spirit into our home every single day.

When I play it, I think about my relationship with piano and with music in general.  I ponder things like why I was unable to really hunker down and practice the piano and to master it when I was young and when I was living with such a wonderful teacher (my mom).  I think about how I picked it back up again while I was in college. On Sundays, there wasn't much else to do in the dorms, so I would sneak down to the living room and practice hymns. (I'm not very good, don't get any ideas!)  I think about what a strength that was to me then and what a strength this piano is going to be to us now.

Before bed the other night, Steve quoted a scene from The Sound of Music when the father says, "You've brought music back into the house."  (Leave it to me to marry a man who can quote one of my favorite movies...and not even realize it until we've been married 7 years!)  We both laughed.  But it is so true.  And it feels so right to have the gift of music--real, live music that you create yourself, in our home.

The thing that struck me the most about the piano is its age.  It blows me away that in 1927, the Brambach piano company built an instrument of such high quality and standards that nearly 100 years later, it would still be just as valuable, bring just as much joy, continue to teach valuable life-lessons, entertain, enlighten, and bring beauty to the homes of families for generations...particularly my family and my home.  

As someone who has grown up in a "throw-away society" this just boggles my mind...and makes me love and appreciate this piano even more.

Steve decided to take it apart this evening to clean it and make some adjustments.  He uncovered this...Signatures from a previous owner or tuner.  It says "4/14/43, G. J. Smith" and is signed again in 1947.  You know I couldn't resist adding my name and date as well.  (I'm sure I just blew my chances of this thing making a killing on Antique Roadshow, but oh well! :)  Steve should have really been the one to sign it.  He's already leveled out most of the keys.  What a good and capable man, I have!

Here is Steve tinkering with the action.  (Remember how we acquired our kitchen table?)  Moments later, inside the piano, Steve discovered this:

A hairpin...just like the hairpin that I found while refinishing my Great-grandma's dresser many years ago.  Coincidence?  Perhaps, but a sweet reminder to me of loved ones passed, and that they are smiling down upon me.

So what is the moral of this story? I am still living it, so I'm not quite sure I can say definitively, but as I think about this piano and all that it and the people involved with bringing this piano to us means to me...I think about testimony.  Testimony is like having faith, but with understanding and a witness from the Holy Ghost sprinkled in.

Here are a few thoughts:

Testimony of truth cannot be borrowed.  My mother did her best to teach me to play, but try as she did, she could not transfer the musical knowledge and skill that she had acquired over a lifetime to her child in a series of basic lessons.

The desire to have a testimony...to believe...must come from inside and cannot be forced.  When I finally wanted to know how to play the piano, in college, I was willing to put in the time to learn.  Until I wanted to understand, I could not be forced to know anything.

Faith is the substance (or assurance) of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.  If you have ever tried to learn to play the piano, you might have discovered, as I did, that it takes a very different set of skills than are required to learn most other things.  In school, we learn by reading/seeing/hearing what we are to learn.  While playing a piano, one must learn by touch or feel which are the right keys to be played.  When we learn things of a spiritual nature it requires us to develop a very similar skill...to experience the world by trusting what we feel (by the Spirit) and trusting in things that we hope for but cannot see. 

In our lives, we receive a witness of our faith only after we act on that faith.  Just as, only after we strike the keys, do we receive a confirmation in our ears of the rightness (or wrongness) of the keys we have played. 

Our testimony of truth must be maintained or we will lose our faith.  I wonder  just how many times this piano has been tuned over the last 90 or so years.  It sounds pretty good for not having been tuned in ten years.  You wouldn't know it was out of tune by just looking at it.  I can even play a recognizable tune, but certain notes, when played send out a pretty horribly out-of-tune sound which destroys the melody.  When I hear these particular notes in a song, I back up in the music and try again, certain that it must be a mistake that I have made in playing an incorrect note.  Before I realize that it is just out of tune, I am discouraged and would prefer to switch songs to avoid the disharmonious note.

Like an untuned piano, having a testimony that has not been "tuned" or is out of use can lead us to doubt and even walk away from the great and beautiful opus that God has created for each of us.

This life is the time to prepare to meet God...our time to gain a testimony of Him.  How many people touched this piano?  How many little children sat for hours on its bench clumsily banging out a tune until their time for practice was up?  Although, signs of their association with this piano still linger, they are long dead and gone.  Their initials, that hairpin are distant reminders to me that they had their time with this piano...their time to learn from it, appreciate it, master it, love it...or not.  Now is my time.

This life is our time to gain the necessary understanding or testimony of who God is...of who we are, and to act on that understanding.  This life is our time to prepare to meet God.

Time will pass all too quickly.  And my opportunity to learn and become the person I am to become in this life will be over in the blink of an eye.

Let us make the best use of testimony and of time.


  1. What a beautiful piano and how exciting for you and your family! I love the way you were able to share your thoughts and testimony around the story of your new piano.

  2. So awesome, both the blessing of the piano (and the tender mercies along with it) and the post/thoughts.


  3. Jocelyn, you have such a phenomenal way with words! I love your thoughts and the freedom with which you share them. Congratulations on a beautiful piano! My parents inherited my grandmother's piano (just an upright, nothing fancy) but as I am the child with the most piano training, I think I've got dibs on inheriting it someday... if I can just convince my 9-year-old niece to give up piano lessons now before she overtakes me ;)

  4. The piano is BEAUTIFUL!!! What a treasure! Love your stories and insights.

  5. I love how you intertwined the piano with developing testimonies!

    I inherited my grandmother's piano after my sister(who is much more musically competent than I) welcomed a baby grand into her home. I hated practicing growing up and I still consider myself a novice, but everytime my daughter or I sit down and play I feel like my grandma is smiling down on us from heaven.

  6. What a beautiful post! Thank you, Jocelyn.
    We bought a piano off craigslist in January. I took lessons for the one year I could as a 13 year old. Now I'm trying to teach myself to play by plunking through hymns. I love love love having a piano in our home even though no one here really plays it. Yet;)

  7. What a beautiful post & a beautiful piano! I can completely relate-- we acquired a turn-of-the-century Knabe upright a couple of years ago, and it too has 'brought music back into the house' for our family. Thanks for your testimony, Jocelyn, as always. Just lovely.

  8. What a terrific analogy, Jocelyn. And I'm so excited that you have found the perfect piano for your family. And so impressed that your husband knows how to rejuvenate it a bit!


  9. Brilliant post. I learned a lot through learning to play an instrument.

    I would love to have a piano in my home, I too wasn't as diligent at learning to play the piano as I could have been as a girl-so regret it now.

  10. I really love when the Lord helps us see the applicability of the Gospel in the everyday things. It's such a wonderful reminder that everything that is temporal is spiritual. Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts, and congratulations on the piano!

  11. What a beautiful blessing to have that piano! And beautiful thoughts along with it.

  12. Everytime i read your words, my love for learning and perseverance is always being awakened.

    if we cannot see and find meaning to the small things that happened in our lives or the life of others then it is easy to not notice the bigger things that's going on in our lives and even the life of others.

    We were always joking at home that if we have a baby grand piano, with a small space that we move around here, that piano will also be our dining table!

  13. How neat! I love discovering little treasures too!
    Have a wonderful with the resurrection of the music in your home, my dear. :)

  14. I love this musical analogy. And that is a beautiful piano! :)

  15. WOW! You are one blessed and loved daughter! ;)

    Corine :D