Wit & Wisdom from the
Students of Daniel Light
Teaching piano is my passion and my career. Students frequently delight me with their comments--often hilarious, sometimes witty, occasionally sweet and tender. Here are some of those gems.
A short, pedagogical piece in ABA form.
Quiet, contemplative, reflective.
I’m a grown man who just drove to Kroger for the sole purpose of buying . . . gummy bears.
Drove to Kroger.
Two blocks away.
Didn’t even walk.
(There might be hooligans!)
I blame my friend Chris, who posted about gummy bears earlier in the evening, saying, “I hope that when I inevitably choke to death on gummy bears, people will just say I was killed by bears, and leave it at that.”
Thus the craving for gummy bears was planted, and it nagged away at my brain until I gave in and drove to Kroger. After midnight. On a Monday.
But there was a problem. The gummy bears were blocked by a giant stocking cart. Normally, I would just move the cart and get what I want; but this time, there was a Kroger employee actively stocking shelves from the cart.
“Excuse me sir, could you move your giant cart so I can reach the gummy bears?”
Nope. Grown man. Can’t say that.
When I buy gummy bears, I do it on the sly, hiding them under the hamburger meat, or the charcoal–anything manly. Then I go through the self-checkout line and hope no one is watching when I run them over the scanner.
Determined not to have made a post-midnight trip to Kroger in vain, I pushed my cart around the store a few times, contemplating what I might say.
“Pardon me, sir, I was told to buy gummy bears. I don’t dare go home without them. Can you move your cart, please?”
Nope. Not gonna fly. Even I laughed at that one.
“Maybe he’ll soon move down the aisle a little,” I thought, circling the store a few more times.
But Mr. Candy Aisle Stocker was in no hurry. His cart was going nowhere fast.
I couldn’t think of a single thing to say to that man that wouldn’t prompt him to think, “Grown man. Gray hair. Gummy bears. After midnight. SMH!”
So I got in my car, empty-handed, and went home.
If I Google “Twelve-step program for gummy bear addiction,” will those skinny-jeans-wearing hipster children who work at Google post it on their Top-Ten-Stupid-Searches-of-the-Day list?
I’m not giving them the pleasure. Brats. Get off my lawn!
Dad would wake us up at 6:00 a.m.
“Rise and shine,” he’d say, turning on the lights and pulling down the covers. “Blackberries don’t pick themselves.”
Why couldn’t I have been born to someone sane?
Off we’d go, well before sunrise, hiking up the damp hillside into the blackberry thickets. I was sure there were copperheads, rattlesnakes, and wolf spiders the size of my head. And chiggers. Millions of chiggers.
Dad created blackberry pails out of gallon-sized tin cans. He drilled holes near the tops and used rope to make handles. My siblings and I knew there was no going home until each of us had filled at least two of those gallon pails.
I would pull my socks over my jeans and tie gasoline-soaked rags to my ankles, hoping to discourage the chiggers. But nothing ever worked. I was monumental chigger bait. No matter what precautions I took, I’d swell up into a red, itching, oozing puff ball of chigger bites–hundreds of them, piled on top of one another in all the worst places.
Is it any wonder I hated picking blackberries?
Recently, while helping clean out mom and dad’s house, I ran across two of those blackberry pails.
Everyone who’s undertaken the task of emptying your parents’ home knows the experience is fraught with emotional land mines. There are boxes, drawers, shelves, and closets full of memories. You laugh, you cry. You wonder why your parents saved all that stuff for so many years.
When I found the blackberry pails, I laughed at the memory they unearthed and said to my brother, “No one but us would know what these were for.”
Then I flung them into the dumpster hoping they weren’t still covered in chiggers.
“I was entertained to hear that your car lock alert and the weed eater are both F-sharps,” I said to Wade as we walked into a rehearsal together.
“You need to get a life,” he replied.
Six-year-old Elliott sat down at the piano and started improvising when she arrived for her lesson yesterday. She was doing it so musically, I suggested we turn on the camera and make up a duet together.
“Use black keys,” I told her.
A short, lyrical pedagogical piece.
“Why is there an army of minions in your piano studio?”
No one has actually asked the question, but I see parents looking at all the minions, and I know what they’re thinking.
We were preparing for a recital, and I had put lots of effort into getting students to think about stage presence and performance procedure. I told them to show me they were remembering by giving me a fist bump and saying a secret word as they arrived at the recital.
“What’s the secret word going to be?” I asked.
“Minions!” one of the boys shouted. So minions it was.
They filed into the recital hall one-by-one, all giving me fist-bumps and whispering the secret word. And their performance procedure was impeccable. Best ever.
Since then, students have been bringing me minions–stuffed minions, plastic minions, Christmas-tree-ornament minions, light-switch-cover minions. There was even a minion cake. (That was my favorite!)
Not what I meant.
“I learned to play in church,” Vera told me.
“Can you play most anything you hear?”
“Yes,” she giggled, “I guess I can.”
“Kids these days–with their cell phones and iPods–probably don’t even know what a pick, a shovel, and a sledgehammer are,” Bob said.
He was sitting on his back patio, greeting garden-tour visitors. He seemed proud of his backyard garden, and he should be. He and his wife, Norma, have done all the work themselves.
Bob and Norma decided to tackle their backyard project themselves back in 1991 after they were quoted a price by a commercial firm.
“We worked for four months, seven days a week, twelve hours a day,” Bob told us.
They installed a new fence, 2275 concrete pavers, a truckload each of top soil and sand, and countless plants, flowers and shrubs.
The garden has evolved over the years, and it is truly a work of art. I could have stayed for hours.
There were five of them–women with walkers, lined up in a row, looking regal and wise. The one wearing a baseball cap crooked her finger at me, beckoning me over.
“How long you been playin’ piano?” she asked.
“Since I was a kid,” I replied.
“Well, you’re not much more than a teenager now.”
A real charmer, this lady! I loved her already.
“I’m Jean,” she told me. “I like to play the organ. I don’t much remember the notes any more, but I play by ear. You wanna hear?”
“I’d love to hear!”
Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling . . . .
Seriously, that’s what she played. She was magnificent.