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Keys to My Heart

Millie Samson

That piano followed me through each stage of my life, from home to home and room to room. Life without a piano was something none of us could contemplate

Thursday, October 13, 2016

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L ast week, I gave away my confidant and best friend — — my piano.

It was entwined with my soul, the way I expressed every emotion. When I was overcome with sadness, I would lose myself in its keys; when life took turns that twisted out of control, its music restored order to my thoughts. I had always been sure that my piano would accompany me wherever life meandered. Now, when I gaze at the spot where it stood, I gasp with the realization that it’s really gone.

Piano has been a part of my heart since my childhood. I never found out who gave me my first piano, a battered — — but to me, beautiful — — upright. I came home one day to find it in the room I shared with my sister, a reward for progress in the lessons I’d been taking for months. It was love at first sight. I would practice for hours, running my fingers through scales and arpeggios, Mozart and Beethoven, going over and over each phrase until it was perfect.

That piano followed me through each stage of my life, from home to home and room to room, until I had children of my own, and it became the center of our family. For years, Monday night was music night. Mr. Briggs, our music teacher who would eventually become a family friend, would appear to impart the beauty of music to one or more children. I’d listen to their laughter as their hands cruised the notes. While I brewed Mr. Briggs’s tea in the kitchen and sliced his favorite cake — — chocolate brownie — — he would coax music from child after child, knowing how to reach within each one and bring out the music hidden within.

With one he played jazz, another Beethoven and Mozart, and yet others he would accompany on the piano as they played their violins, stopping every now and again to place recalcitrant fingers and reposition bows.


When our daughter became a kallah, she asked him if he and the boys could play as she walked to the chuppah. He gave a little bow and, with tears in his eyes, said it would be an honor. There is a precious picture of him with our four little boys, clutching their pint-sized violins.

Even though I never made them practice, believing that music can never be forced, our house resonated with music of all kinds. As our children grew, my piano became geriatric. It was an unspoken understanding we would replace it; after all, life without a piano was something none of us could contemplate.

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