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The Sandbank Piano and
My Thwarted Musical Career
by Amy Kenneley

It's going viral around the world-a hopeful college student parks a burned piano on a Florida sandbank to create an admission-worthy video. Details to follow...

There was something so moving about seeing that lonely piano sitting on a small sandbank in Florida. One day abandoned, today a grand global celebrity. At first telling, I thought "Oh, now someone will row out there and play it…I wonder what the song will be?"

A memory came back to me then. Our small street, Newton Ave. in Cleveland, was lined with once-middle class homes with little yards and small, lovingly appointed rooms. Built at the turn of the century (the 20th century, my young ones) they had still kept up tidy, if fading, appearance. Some homes had already become rooms-to-let.

I was fascinated by the wonderful sounds coming from one house up the street, a rooms-to-let house where a man, wife and daughter lived. He played the violin and gave lessons. Sometimes I could also hear the tinkling and thundering of a piano as well. One day, there were boxes on the sidewalk, and the owner of the home, who lived downstairs, mentioned to me that his upstairs tenants were moving. They were the violin teacher and his family.

Since I didn't know them well, I was less concerned for their reasons for moving (upwardly mobile, I would hope) than with the welfare of all their possessions-specifically, the piano.

"Are they going to take the piano?" I asked. "Nah, they don't want to pay to have it moved. Now I'm stuck with it……say, you want a piano?"

Did I want a piano? Of course I did! My childhood daydreams had revolved around being on stage someplace singing opera, or playing a piano like those black-tuxedoed guys.

Childhood daydreams are often the fantasy opposites of the daydreamer. I was a stage-struck ten year old with stage fright! But that didn't matter. If I had a piano to play, all that would go away.

I couldn't wait to convince Mom about the wisdom of trundling a large piano (sight unseen, but it had to be large) down one flight of stairs to the street, then up the street to another house. Of course I could take piano lessons and practice, practice, practice! Mom thought about the chances of squeezing piano lessons into a tight budget.

"I'll ask about it" she said. And she did.

"I'm sorry, honey, but he wants me to buy the piano, and I can't afford to."

"But-I thought he wanted to give it to me…"

"Maybe he did when he thought he was "stuck" with it, but now that you want it, he wants some money."

Crushed. The end of my stage dreams. The little flame of excitement had lasted almost a day, then had ended. Never got a piano. Never learned to play. I never found out what happened to it-or wanted to. Great-grandma put a nice cap to my thwarted ambition: "Got to have long fingers to play a piano-yours are too short, anyway, honey."

So there another that piano sits, alone on a sandspit with a few waves making music. Perhaps the end of someone else's dream? It was a shame, wasn't it, that before that grand instrument was placed there, it was torched and burned at the insistence of a crowd? Perhaps it was out of tune and ready to go to a landfill. Perhaps.

But if it wasn't, wouldn't it have been a wonderful thing to see, someone rowing out there and playing beautiful music for our globally connected-- and troubled -- world?



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