When we were in Williamsburg, one of the trades we visited was the cabinet makers’ shop. While Petra asked lots of questions about the kinds of wood they were working with, how they made the joins, what a veneer was, et cetera, Silas noticed a spinet they had made and asked if he could play it. He happily noodled on it for the whole time we were there, and later said that it was his favorite thing at Colonial Williamsburg.
About a month ago, my mom told me that she kept thinking about Silas playing that spinet. “He can’t stay away from a piano. When we had that rental last year for the holidays, he was messing around on the piano the whole time. Anytime we’re anywhere with a piano, he has to play it.” We have had this conversation a million times over the years; our house is tiny. There’s no spot for a piano. “I want to just buy him a keyboard,” she went on. “Just a small one.”
I told her that was okay, but maybe she should focus on pawnshops or Craigslist. “He might lose interest when it’s something that is in the house all the time and not a novelty. Don’t spend real money on this.” She, predictably, gave me the brush-off.
Not long after that, I was talking with some colleagues about a project I thought we might need a piano for. “It’s a hassle to get out the grand, and I don’t even know where we would fit it,” I said.
“We actually have a keyboard somebody left here years ago. We tried to get them to come take it, but they never came back. It’s a nice one, too,” one of them said.
We didn’t end up using a piano for our project at all, but I asked, if nobody was using that keyboard, could we borrow it for a bit?
“Sure,” they said, “we’re happy to store it at your house indefinitely.”
So they helped me load it in the station wagon, and I got JC to haul it upstairs, to the one scrap of space where we could fit it. Mom sent Silas a small piano bench, and I got him adapters to let him put the sound through headphones or patch it into his computer. When I told him that the chords that he knows on his uke are exactly the same on the piano, he got really excited, so I ordered him a piano chord poster to put up on the wall.
It’s a very nice keyboard. I looked it up, and new, it would be over $1000. And here it just dropped like a gift into our lives, right when we were asking for it.
Silas is, needless to say, thrilled. He’s experimenting with it every day, getting curious about what he can create with it. He wants to learn audio editing software so he can record multiple tracks, including uke and vocals. During the lockdown, he was fascinated to watch the way Greg Yoder, Jeremy Nafziger, and other musicians from our congregation used technology to create music with people who were in separate spaces (and most notably, they sometimes sung with themselves!).
I love seeing him so engaged and eager to learn and experiment. A gift, indeed.