Have you experienced the magic of a new piano? Sometimes it’s the feel of the keys and the melodic sounds that stir the emotions in your heart. Other times, it’s the love behind the gift of music, or even the gift of a piano, that sparks the magic.
We are honored to share Carol Grady’s story here about her loving husband and magical piano.
“I finished practicing and walked over to my husband, my eyes welling up with tears. ‘I can’t believe I can put my fingers on those ivory keys and make such beautiful music!’ But it wasn’t always like this.
I took lessons for just a few years when I was 10-years-old on an old upright piano my parents acquired from a friend. When I left home to go to school, and subsequently get married and start a family, I went almost 50 years without having a piano, till a friend left me her very old, little, spinet piano when she died. I dabbled at playing, but infrequently and without lessons. Then a few years after I retired, I started lessons again. But it was so disappointing to have a lesson on my instructor’s piano, and then go home to my old spinet. The sound was so superficial—no depth at all. Later, we moved to Augusta, GA and instead of moving it, I donated my piano, with the hope that maybe the next year, I could use our tax return to buy a better piano.
Imagine my surprise on that first Christmas in Augusta, while my husband and I were decorating the Christmas tree, to answer a knock on the door and find this big, ole, delivery man saying he had a piano to deliver to Carol Grady! He moved the ebony Yamaha upright piano into its spot in the living room, and not knowing what to do with this blubbering woman, came over and gave me a big hug and wished me Merry Christmas. But the best moment came when I sat down and started to play. It had been a few months since I had a piano, but when my fingers touched the keyboard, I realized it was a magic piano—it made me sound way better than I was! It was such a joy to play it.
I started taking lessons from Eric Campbell at Turner’s and immediately saw the difference in my piano playing. Eric did not teach me how to play the notes; he taught me how to make music! I loved my piano, and I loved playing it. However, that summer we were scheduled to go to Pennsylvania, where my husband worked for the summer. Summers in PA were wonderful, EXCEPT I could not take my piano! How would I last the summer without playing? This does not mean that I was an exceptional piano student. I was not. I had a lot to learn about timing and dynamics. But I loved playing and felt that I was getting better.
My birthday came shortly after arriving in PA. I came in after my morning walk and sat down on the couch with my husband. On the coffee table were a card and a plant. When I looked closer, I saw a manual for a keyboard. I looked at him blankly. I finally looked beyond the couch and there, all set up was a Kawai electric keyboard! I would be able to practice all summer. I did not have to go through piano withdrawal! It got me through the summer. But when we returned home in the fall, the first thing I did was open my piano and play—Yes, it was still a magic piano.
I continued my lessons, progressing ever so slowly. Then last November we went to see Note by Note, the Making of a Steinway Piano at the Historical Center in Augusta. I was mesmerized. To top the evening off, they had the actual Steinway that was made in the movie, and one of Augusta’s brilliant students played that piano. The Steinway’s sound was so dynamic and beautiful, it made me weep. Later that week, I went to Turner’s with my husband, and the same Steinway was there. I had the opportunity to sit down and play it! What a powerful and humbling experience! I felt so fortunate to have the opportunity to play such a majestic instrument.
Sometime afterwards, my husband and I went out Christmas shopping, and he told me that Eric and store owner Lisa Turner-Maddox would be stopping by later that day to share some Christmas cheer. So, I was not surprised to see Eric’s car in the driveway upon our return. What did surprise me was the Steinway-Designed Boston grand piano sitting in my living room with a big red bow on it! A million emotions settled on me at once, with the main one being, ‘I have not grown out of my Yamaha yet, I’m not good enough for a grand piano, it’s too much piano for me!’ But I could not resist the pull of the piano—the inner workings, the beautiful finish and the depth of sound. As I ruminated over this new gift, I was filled with humility, gratitude, and love as I realized my husband believed in me, he believed in my ability to play, in my potential, and he believed that I was ready for this piano.
That was a year ago, and I just finished practicing. I am standing in front of my husband, my eyes welling with tears, because he was right. I was making music on that grand piano that I did not think I was capable of. I did in fact grow into my piano. I am amazed at what my piano and I can do together. Even now, a year later, it is still a regular occurrence for me to finish practicing and, full of uncontrollable emotion, whisper to my husband, ‘I love my piano! This is the best present ever!!’”
It was very special for us to be a part of Carol’s experience. Turner’s Eric Campbell commented, “It was such a sweet moment, and I have been touched over and over again by Jim’s love for his wife, and how he loves joyfully sacrificing for her and splurging on her. Life is short, and you only live life once.”