Sunday, June 14, 2009

My Piano Playing Days


It's hard for me to remember back THAT far, but when I was young, I played the piano. Along with most of my friends, I took piano lessons from Mrs. Williams (on Wyandotte Ave. in my hometown of Big Stone Gap, VA) from the time I was about 7 yrs. old through high school. To be honest, I never enjoyed playing the piano very much--even though my mother LOVED for me to 'show-off' for family and friends when they'd visit (which I did NOT enjoy doing).

I remember that my mother told me that I wouldn't have to wash or dry the dishes after supper in the evenings IF I would practice the piano for about 30 minutes. I wasn't a FOOL... I practiced the piano!!!! Since I came from a very musical family, I actually became a pretty good pianist... I remember going to Pennington Gap every year in the Spring/Summer to participate in regional contests. My Senior year in high school, I received a High School Diploma in Music. The picture above was of me in the local newspaper after I received this special diploma. (Sorry the quality is horrible.)

When I first attended college (Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens, TN) in 1960-61, I intended to major in piano. BUT--after one semester with a new piano teacher (whom I didn't care for at all), I switched to voice. I had always been involved in Glee Club and in choirs and small groups while in high school, but never thought about majoring in voice until college. One reason I chose Tennessee Wesleyan College at that time was because they had a fantastic college touring choir. The choir came to Big Stone Gap when I was in high school--and a couple of students stayed at our home. That SOLD me--and I decided that I wanted to be a part of that choir someday! And luckily, I was.

I had the privilege of singing under Mr. Jack Houts at Tennessee Wesleyan--and also taking voice lessons from him. The piano did come in handy throughout college since I could play for myself (and others) while singing. After getting married, we bought a piano--which moved with me for years and years. But--I never seemed to find the time (or the interest) to sit down and practice or just play it. SO---finally when I was in Texas, I sold that piano and haven't missed it to this day. But---I am glad that I learned to play ---and I thank my mother for all of her encouragement (and urging) when I was young.


The picture above was sent to me by a friend. It also isn't very good quality since it is a newspaper print. BUT--it was taken at one of Mrs. Williams' yearly piano recitals. The names are listed (which is good, if you have a magnifying glass!) because I'm not sure how many I could recognize these days!!!! I am on the front row to the left of the girl sitting at the piano!

These days, I mostly enjoy music by just listening---and that's probably a good thing!!!! ha

Have a great Sunday!

Hugs,

46 comments:

NatureStop said...

Hi Betsy,
What an interesting post.Guess we all love music.I too did take piano lessons for a year when I was in the fifth standard but just for a year cos I did not have any interest.I realized my interest was elsewhere:)Would love to hear you play and sing.

Hugs,
Shantana

Darla said...

it's nice to learn these little tidbits about you. No musical talent in me that's for sure.

Cedar ... said...

Very nice! I didn't persevere at the piano, I always enjoyed just playing 'by ear' and chording square dances, etc. Hated the discipline of playing by written music. I found my home with a guitar, have tried mandolin, banjo and fiddle as well but always come back to guitar. So do I understand correctly that you got a college degree in voice? What does one do with that degree,... teach music? Our highschool had a great chorus, and I participated all four years and went to several county and state music festivals representing our school. Love music!

Neal said...

You didn't like to show off....C'mon Betsy, I know better than that. :) Seriously, that's an interesting story. I've always loved music and would have loved to be able to play a guitar or a mandolin but I'm just not musically inclined.

Mildred said...

Very interesting Betsy. I love the newspaper photograph - beautiful!

Jayne said...

I envy you Betsy! I wish I had been more musically inclined and I would not have such a hard time now learning our choral pieces at church. I don't read music and so have to learn by hearing. What a gift you had!

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

Well who knew? Betsy you never cease to amaze me! :D

Dorothy said...

Miss Betsy Banks sure looks cute playing the piano! I always wanted to learn to play but never had the chance. Now I just enjoy hearing Jeep play. ☺

T said...

How cool!

I love the photo of you in front of the piano - just beautiful.

Arkansas Patti said...

Since you got a superior rating grudgingly playing the piano, just think how far you could have gone if you actually liked playing.
Totally envious of your multiple talents as you are aware of my complete lack of mucical talent.
Great pictures though the magnifying glass didn't help me on the last one.

Robin's New Song said...

What a wonderful musical history and memories you have! I'm from a musical family too... it just goes to the core of who you are doesn't it? I'm sure you'll continue to enjoy sitting at that piano in years to come...
Thank you for visiting my new blog! I am humbled by your asking if I'd published, I don't have a clue how to begin, but it is the desire of my heart. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!
Have a blessed Sunday!

Diane C. said...

I love the picture of you at the piano. How wonderful that you got the special Music diploma and went on to major in voice. :)

ROSIDAH said...

You look very beautiful in the newspaper! I really wish I could play the piano. It sounds so wonderful. Have a great week, Betsy. Hugs and love from Indonesia :)

karin said...

That's a great shot of you at the piano!! And to get newspaper recognition - wow! What a beautiful walk down memory lane! You've nudged me to write down my own story - soon!
Off to visit the country kids for the day! Have a blessed Sunday.

Kathy said...

Isn't there a set of novels set in Big Stone Gap? LOL you kinda look like the lady on the cover. You look so pretty in the white dress. =)

Beth said...

Betsy, I really love that first photo of you playing the piano in that beautiful dress. You look so graceful and poised and pretty. How fortunate you were to have such a gift, especially to be able to play AND sing! I can do neither very well, but I do love listening to my son Benjamin play the guitar. At least my children are musical!

Thanks so much for your kind comment on my recent post. It meant a lot to me.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

What a talented lady you are.My only musical talent is being able to turn on a CD player.I do love good music.Have a great day.
Blessings,Ruth

Cicero Sings said...

Love the picture of you at the piano. Tone deaf I am I'm afraid! But D plays guitar and sings just fine. Too bad I can't join in. Sigh.

Nina P. said...

What is it they say…”Music soothes the soul!” I love the news clips and photo’s. How wonderful to be recognized for the amazing talent you are! You are still singing aren’t you? (church, local glee club, shower, gardening…) Such wonderful memories you have. Thank you for sharing them. On that note…. A 1 and a 2 and a 3.…Sing on…. Love and Light, Nina P.

fishing guy said...

Betsy: What a great photo of that young lady playing the piano. It is hard to remember back that far.

Small City Scenes said...

Miss Betsy Banks---I see you got a superior rating in Music and now a superior rating in blogging.

That is a lovely picture of you at the piano.

I took piano for a very short time. I think my grandmother felt sorry for me and thought lessons would be good for me--HA!! I was in high school at the time and couldn't have been more miserable. Fortunately they didn't last long--the lessons that is! MB

NCmountainwoman said...

My mother was a talented self-taught pianist and her playing brought her great solace when my father died. Many a night when she couldn't sleep, she would sit at the piano and play old hymns.

I often wonder how far she might have taken her music had she been given any opportunities for lessons. But playing in church and for a quartet seemed just fine to her.

Diane said...

Betsy, It's great that you learned and that your mother encouraged you. It led you to some interesting bends in the road. The picture of you playing is SO pretty. I love the dress, too. And I love all the beautiful dresses at the recital. Have a great Sunday.

Smilingsal said...

I took piano for one year, and then I rebelled and refused to practice. I wanted to play outside with my friends. Now, I can only play middle C. What a shame.

SquirrelQueen said...

What a wonderful post, I love the photo of you at the piano.

I took piano lessons for about two years but it was more something my parents wanted than did I. Guess I was just too much of a tomboy back then.

Have a wonderful and sunny Sunday,
Judy

Deborah Godin said...

That is so cool, I didn't realize just how musical you are! One thing I wish I always wlished I knew about is music theory. Loved seeing you in your recital dress too!

A Brit in Tennessee said...

How fascinating, and I love the picture of you playing the piano !
You are one talented lady Ms. Betsy and seemed to be so all of your life :)
My gran wanted me to take piano lessons, and I wanted to take them, but mum wouldn't hear of a piano taking up space in the house, so it's hard to play, if you can't parctice....
A lovely post, thanks for sharing with us.

Judy said...

This was a very interesting post about you. I enjoyed it very much. I did have a few lessons but was never that into playing. I do like lots of different kinds of music. Have a good week.

Bliss said...

You still have one instrument...your voice!
Now you need to sing for a video camera...upload it and post it for us :)

Daisy said...

Interesting post, Betsy. I enjoyed seeing the old newspaper photos. It would be fun to hear you sing! :)

Busy Bee Suz said...

I am envious of your musical talents...I never learned any instruments and sure as heck can't sing, unless you can count singing in the shower. That I am really good at.
Love the old newspaper clippings.

Gundo vom Haus Sevens said...

My musical talent consists of plugging ear buds into my iPod! I took four years of piano and hated every minute of it... never could learn to read music without counting the bars. Great pictures!

Jane

Joy said...

Betsy, how pretty you looked in that highschool picture.
That is great you became so accomplished even though you didn't really enjoy it. Sounds like your college was a great fit for you.
Love that picture of the piano recital.
I took piano from the Nazarene pastor's wife, then we moved a few miles away and I took from an Assembly of God's pastor's wife. Both were wonderful women.

Joy

Marge said...

What a wonderful post! I always wanted to take piano lessons and still might some day. Thanks for the story. You sure have been doing some traveling lately! And, the pics of yoru flowers are beautiful!

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Wonderful memories, Betsy! So you are a musician! Cool.

Shellmo said...

Betsy - I loved seeing these photos of you from your "wild" past! Tee hee~! I would loved to have heard you play and sing (now why didn't you sing for me when we were at lunch? ha,ha!) The piano is something I wished I had learned to play - you had a good mom!!
P.S. Greg and I have felt like slugs today after our long drive home - but I'm glad you gave us those Tennessee jokes! I'm still laughing about "you aren't surprised to find movie rental, ammunition, beer and bait all in the same store." HA,HA!!

Mary Isabella and Kiley too! said...

I alwways wanted to play the piano but never did...Have a blessed week...m.

Rose said...

You are so blessed to be able to sing and play an instrument...I dearly love to 'sing' but only when I am alone.

Wendy said...

Oh, I remember those days of piano lessons. I loved them back then. But once I got into high school, it wasn't "cool" any more, so I dropped the piano and took voice. Seems like I followed the same pathway as you did!
I still love singing to this day. Am not in a choir presently, but will get back there when the opportunity presents.

I used to move my piano (actually it was my childhood one) from place to place until I got tired of it and eventually sold it. I do miss it, though. I intend to take up another instrument sometime.....
Happy Sunday

marmee said...

how very cool...i just love older black and white photographs...you really should play. i have never learned any instrument and really wished i had.

Jackie said...

Hey, Betsy, I just love reading all this history about you! When my grandma was alive I used to love to listen to her tell stories of when "she was little" with her 10 brothers and sisters, and now I am finding out things about my mom when she tells me stories about her exploits, lol, as a teenager. Keep up the good work!

Jackie

Anonymous said...

Betsy, I just had to comment on yesterday's post. You might not have enjoyed the piano that much - and you definitely did not give yourself enough credit regarding your singing talent. I think your blogger friends should know just HOW talented you were!!! I could listen to you sing and play for hours and I will never forget your and Mel's concert at the Venice Little Theater. That was marvelous!!! So, to all Betsy's blogger friends - you should have heard and seen her back in the 70's!!!! She had AMAZING talent!! Sally

Mary said...

I envy your singing and piano talent. I have a piano, but can barely pick out the top hand on it. I love music so much and would love to really play well. Should have practiced more :-)....but no one offered me a chance to get out of doing the dishes.

Anonymous said...

Ditto Sally! Betsy had amazing musical talent. I always loved to watch her fingers fly across the keyboard. None of us could ever match her. And such a beautiful voice. She sang at my wedding. Betsy do you remember the two piano piece we played at the concert in our senior year? If I do say so, it was beautiful and I was honored to play with you.
Susan Daugherty

mothernaturesgarden said...

Happy Blogaversary, Betsy. Time flies when you are having fun. I enjoy your blog and look forward to it.
Donna

Janie said...

I, too, took piano lessons throughout my school years. Since I've had my own family, I taught my kids the rudiments (they were never terribly interested) and now I just play for family Christmas carols and for our dog Daisy, who loves to sing!