Friday, February 29, 2008

Freedom's Pitter Patter

In honor of the upcoming primaries in my area, I thought I would tell you an inspiring patriotic story from my own life. Be prepared to shed tears of patriotic love. It's that good.

When I was in fourth grade, my piano teacher (who had thus far failed to teach me any note by sight except for middle C--my fault not hers!) suggested that perhaps music composition might be my cup of tea because certainly practicing the piano and learning notes and counting and stuff seemed to be beyond my grasp. She didn't actually say the last part, but it was an unspoken truth. In fact, she told me enthusiastically, she had just received notification of a state-wide competition for piano composition for elementary school students.

I have to admit, I was flattered. And truly, I already had a little composition because, let's be honest, I wasn't exactly spending my half-hour of practice time practicing anything that was assigned.

My composition, originally entitled "Waterfall" was unique in two important ways.

1) It was played entirely on the black keys. Somehow this made me feel like it had an Oriental flavor.

2) It had not one, not two, but THREE giant runs down the entire length of the keyboard (still entirely on the black keys, mind you). Because even back then, I was a SHAZAM kind of girl. I liked a little drama, if you know what I mean. Blame it on me being a middle child, if you must.

My mother, who had seven children at that point, and shouldn't have had time to even help me tie my shoe, helped me write the music on to the staff, although we did have to call and ask how we were supposed to indicate a run that ran the entire length of the piano. I needed her help desperately, because as I think I've mentioned, I knew only one note's position on the staff--middle C. And I had no clue whatsoever of how to show people in the key signature that they were only supposed to use the black keys. But we persevered, and eventually "Waterfall" was put on paper and recorded on a tape, ready to send in.

"Um," my teacher hedged when I showed her the results, "That's very unique, isn't it?"

"Yes," I agreed because I was still young enough to believe that unique was a compliment.

"Oh, I forgot. I looked at the rules again, and this is supposed to be a patriotic competition. We probably need to rename your composition."

I was devastated. My composition? You mean the Oriental-sounding composition that would forever remind me of a quiet bamboo forest (well, aside from the big finish runs at the end which quite frankly sounded like a giant panda bear was single-handedly rampaging through the bamboo forest and pulling down bamboo trees)? My beautiful black-keyed piece? There was nothing patriotic about that composition. I supposed that I had no choice but to respectfully withdraw from the competition. But . . . how could I rob (yes, ROB!) the world of such a beautiful piece of music (complete with three full piano runs)? How would the world survive without my well-crafted song?

"How about 'Freedom's Pitter-Patter'?" I suggested.

And so it was that "Freedom's Pitter-Patter" was sent to the statewide competition. And so it was that "Freedom's Pitter-Patter" won fourth place in the statewide competition. And so it was that I got a ribbon and certificate in the mail.

My brothers spitefully suggested that there were only four entrants. Ha. Shows how much they know about music.

See, aren't you feeling more patriotic now? Aren't you inspired? Don't you want to vote? (Maybe in China? Japan? Somewhere in the Orient?)

This girl is not me for several reasons: a) this girl is actually practicing the piano, b) this girl has somehow managed to sidestep the giant disaster of a haircut that plagued me throughout my first fifteen years (oh, fine, TWENTY-TWO YEARS!), and c) this girl has her hand placed somewhere other than middle C. And that's how you know.


Julia said...

Funny story ... was your hair by chance cut short? I ask because as the middle child myself, my mother, who had 4 under 6, lost any patience with my unruly hair and keep it chopped short. Maybe a another injustice for the middle children?

Lippy said...

My last read of the night, and a good one! Got a couple of laughs through that one, but I am inspired! I want to write my own song on only the black keys, and I WILL!
As soon as I find them. I dropped the piano.

Good story :)

Corrine said...

so why isn't the song playing on your blog :)

this was great!

ps thanks for sharing your prom story, i went with mine and ditched him at the dance...wasn't I nice :)

Sara said...

Oh Heidi, I soooo needed that story! You are a gem!

Jill said...

Congratulations on your 4th place!
(I realize it's a little late, but in my defense, I didn't know you then)
I played the violin for 2 years when I was a child. Apparently, I didn't practice very much.
For some reason, my mom keeps making it a point to tell my kids that I wouldn't ever practice my violin.
I think she's still annoyed.

BTW, she sold my violin.

Carol said...

Hilarious! So sad that I didn't know you until you were 21 (when I was witness to the bad hair pre-lice)! Would so have loved you to the do the musical part at zone conference. Would have blown the Spallino's away!!

Jen said...

I have a sudden inexplicable urge to say the pledge of allegiance. . .

Texas Mommy said...

I love that you actually composed music, and what is even better is you only used black keys!! you are impressive! I don't think I ever even thought about doing that!

The Rookie said...

"Freedom's Pitter Patter"...has a nice sort of ring to it. I'm sure panda bears the world over are placing their paws over their hearts with what will always be the TRUE national anthem.

Ashley said...

Too funny! I too entered one or two piano composition competitions. Never placed. I took eight years of piano and one day decided to quit. My mom got mad and sold our piano and with the money bought a computer. See I am a good blogger, not a so great with the piano (anymore), it was meant to be. This one of the topics I avoid bringing up around my mother.

Jen said...

See! Your blog is WAY funnier than mine! PS did you get my email with K.E.'s phone number?

Amy said...

wow ...yet another reason to be oh so impressed with Heidi:) a composer. And you said you didn't have talent...whatev!

I wish you could upload your song for all of us to hear! I am so curious...your stories are always so well written.

Anonymous said...

You don't want to hear the song, it would kill the story...and your ears

Bisel Family said...

bless you woman. i love that you always make me laugh!

elesa said...

I read about you in the barrel blogging reviews so I came to check out your blog. and I've been reading the stuff off your Past Posts Required list and this one is my favorite so far. I couldn't stop giggling, and the name "Freedom's Pitter Patter" is going to be one of those things that will make me laugh whenever I think about it. So thanks.