I grew up as the youngest of three sisters in a family where music was the centrepiece of the household. When I was very small, we had a Gerard Heintzman upright piano in our living room, which was what my sisters and I all learned to play on. My mom was a piano teacher from as far back as I can remember, and my dad played well too, although he ended up spending much more time as audience than he did as performer as the years went on and there was always someone at the piano.
I remember the excitement when that beautiful Conover grand piano arrived at our house in 1966 and took its honoured position in the living room. The Gerard Heintzman was shipped to my eldest sister in Edmonton and still lives at her house in Deep Cove.
Every day when I’d come home from school, Mom would have a piano student, and that would continue until dinner time. In my high school years, when I was working for my Grade 10 and ARCT certificates, I’d spend three hours before school and three hours after dinner practicing at that piano. My two older sisters had both left home by then, and the piano was my domain when Mom or her students weren’t at it. My Dad would take up his spot on the couch and listen as I went through scales, arpeggios and pieces. My little dog would run madly through the house, with her route taking her under my feet, under the piano and out the other side over and over and over again.
Although we all played, it was Mom who took the piano seat when we had family gatherings. She played wonderful old-fashioned stride piano and we all sang. Christmas was particularly fun.
When Mom and Dad sold the house I grew up in in 1993 to downsize, the piano went with them to the condo they bought. It was really too large for that living room, but was a necessary part of their life. When Dad passed away and Mom was moving to a care facility, the piano was left to me. Neither I nor my sisters had room for it, which was heartbreaking for all of us. It was such a huge relief when my best friend since we were nine years old, Betty-Joan, expressed an interest in it, and I knew it would continue to be loved and played.
I know that Betty-Joan went through the same concern as I had when she realized she couldn’t take the grand piano to Victoria with her, and I know she was thrilled that Menno Place wanted it.
So am I. Thank-you for loving that piano like my family and Betty-Joan’s family did. It means a lot to all of us.