Friday, March 21, 2014

March Slice of Life Story Challenge: Day 21 of 31 /

Piano Tuner

My dad was a piano tuner. He turned this skill into quite a business - he ran a piano store for close to thirty years, and had four different locations before settling in his final one on bustling Silhavy Road in Valparaiso, Indiana. Over the years, less of his time was spent tuning pianos and more spent making piano sales and overseeing the daily operations of his store (or stores, as at one point he had two locations open simultaneously). But he still made time to make house calls, taking care of customers' pianos in their homes. He always enjoyed these calls, as he was able to get a peek inside people's homes and lives, which he loved. He always had stories about a vicious poodle, a friendly cat, or an old lady with a cup of cocoa and a tale to tell. Recently, I came across a poem that had been written about him by a longtime customer. 

Here's an excerpt:

He lifts the heavy panels free
And props the hinged lid open. Wide-
Eyed, the youngest daughter cranes
Expectantly to peer inside. 

What's hidden there? 

As I read those lines, I saw my dad opening the lid of an antique upright piano to reveal the action within, a little girl at his side, mesmerized by the strings and hammers lined up in perfect rows like little soldiers ready to march. I saw all those homes that my dad went into over the years, bringing the gift of music to those within. I also saw all of the pianos he worked on over the years. Big uprights, grands, spinets, Yamahas, Baldwins, Steinways. He collected them in his memory the way some people collect acquaintances. As I read the poem, I got a glimpse of the other side of the story. I saw the families welcoming my dad and their appreciation of his expertise. What a gift to realize he affected his customers as much as they affected him. 

My dad loved the poem and at the customer's request submitted it to a piano technicians' journal. It was accepted, which made my dad quite proud.


  1. wow I think being a piano tuner would be a great job when I grow up since I love music and instruments...

  2. why did it make me type in letters to make sure i'm not a robot?

  3. I think it's glimpses like this, from people who have interacted unbeknownst to us with the people we love, that deepens our insight and appreciation of who they are. Great post, Anna - see you at TC tomorrow!!

  4. Your father brought the joy of music into so many people's lives. I have no doubt that his community misses him too. He had a profound effect on people's lives.