Serendipity and the Duo-pianists

Today is July 11, 2016.  It’s early evening here in Wisconsin, and I must get this posting published today — because today is a significant date for me.

Today was my sister Eleanor’s birthday.  She was my “big” sister, 3+ years older than me, and where Eleanor led, I followed.  Eleanor died in 1994; she was 58 years old.

One of the everyday activities of our growing up years was playing duets on the piano at home. Even In our early adulthood and middle years, whenever we were together with our young families, the kids would be playing board games somewhere in the house, and Eleanor and I would be at the piano playing duets.  We didn’t have a large repertoire of music from which to choose, but nevertheless we thoroughly enjoyed playing what we had — Erik Satie’s Three Pieces in the Form of a Pear, Brahms’ Waltzes, Opus 39, and Bizet’s Children’s Games.

Somewhere in the late 1990s, friend Melinda asked me in church one day if I would like to try to play some duets together. Yes!  Playing together started out to be once in a while and strictly for ourselves.  Then our time at the piano increased a little to include playing in church, and attending a monthly music group of nonprofessionals who played for each other.  A few years ago, we somewhat hesitantly decided to try working with a piano coach, a decision that turned out to be fantastic for our piano skills and musical understandings. We have been working with Jess ever since.  It was Jess who persuaded us to try two-piano works; we were pretty much hooked immediately as we launched into playing Brahms’ Variations on a Theme of Haydn in a practice room in the School of Music on campus.  The opening theme is one of those pieces you can sit down and play decently without any preparation.  The sound was sublime.  Ultimately, Melinda purchased a second piano, rearranged her living and dining rooms, and voila (!), we have two small grand pianos at our disposal all the time.  As Ed says, this is like a gift to me and one which I appreciate dearly.

So where is serendipity in all this piano stuff?

Melinda’s birthday is the same date as my sister Eleanor’s — July 11.  Happy birthday Melinda and happy birthday Eleanor!


5 thoughts on “Serendipity and the Duo-pianists

  1. Monique and I love to listen to you play- knowing Melinda and your sister shared a birthday reinforces the cosmic connection.


  2. Betty, after reading your blog about playing piano duets with your sister and Melinda, I am struck once again by how memory and the emotions that accompany it form the base for the elaboration of thoughts that can grow into new occupations (or variations on themes of older ones). You beautifully describe something very intimate using occupational language that contains deep emotion and a wonderful description of the possibility for healing loss through friendship and music. The fact of the birthdays on the same day makes the message even better, but what I especially liked about it was the fact that you wanted to be able to celebrate the two of them together and communicate it to all of us as something that contributes to making you who you are.Thank you for sharing this.


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