The Untuned Piano

My wife and I inherited a gorgeous upright piano from my in-laws when we moved into our first home after I attended seminary. Her parents had big plans to ‘take one for the team’ and pack up everything and move to the coast - truly suffering for the cause. Apparently, no one wants to move a piano to a tiny house at the coast, so the impetus was upon us.

Well, really the impetus was on my wife.

I love the idea of having a piano in the house. I didn’t grow up with one and blame that missing object on my lack of knowledge on how to play the instrument. I understand and play the guitar, but the piano is an unmanageable beast to me still, even after a few forays at lessons.

So, when the question came our way, I quickly hopped on the idea of inheriting this piano. Of course I wanted it! Think of all of the time I would spend learning to play the thing. Think of the smell of the aged wood and felted hammers. Think of the sound of our children learning their first concerto in the living room.

However, here’s the thing about a piano: it’s a fickle machine.

Moving a piano requires a good chunk of force. Not only that, the force exerted transporting the beast knocks it horrifically out of tune. As a guitarist, I tune my instrument regularly. But it didn’t take long to learn that tuning a piano was something out of the question.

Case in point - I began to research trained piano tuners in the area. That’s plural. There are multiple skilled craftspeople in the area. It’s not a ‘take your guitar to the guitar center and have the clerk tune ya up real quick’ situation.

No, someone comes to your home and spends time on that piano. They have a toolkit. I bought my first ‘big boy’ drill like two years ago - you think I am interested in investing and storing a special toolkit for a piano?

Thus, we’ve lived in this home for two years come May and the piano remains untuned. It sits in our living room. We stare at it. Right now it has greeting cards from my wife’s baby shower sitting where an Overture should sit.

Now, we play with it occasionally. I’ve taught Norah a basic C-scale and she enjoys the concept of the piano. But a C-scale could be taught on a $3 glockenspiel from the Goodwill - the five-hundred pound behemoth need not apply.

But still I keep those dreams of learning someday. I hold onto the possibility of having it tuned. Sometimes it’s less about the actual experience of the thing and more about the possible future ahead - if it ever even happens.

(It won’t.)


March 25th, 2022