Since I was a little girl I have been interested in all forms of movement and music. I badly wanted to learn Piano to be able to play music. However, my strict father would not give me the opportunity to take lessons, nor be persuaded to buy me a piano. I must have been 6 or 7 when my best friend Wendy began regular piano lessons. I was very jealous and keen to play that I would call for her immediately after her piano lesson to “come out to play”. With an ulterior motive I would persuade her to take me into her house so she could teach ME what she had just been taught! This arrangement was not a success.
Therefore, when my Agent asked me to take up a challenge to learn the piano in the capable hands of Hayley Elton – Pianist I jumped at the idea. And Hayley a concert pianist no less! The day of the lesson dawned, but at the same time it dawned on me that a piano was going to be difficult to fit into my small Town House with it’s twisting staircase leading up to my first floor lounge. In preparation I started to move furniture, but glancing out the window was horrified to find that Piano and van had already arrived.
A ring on the doorbell confirmed my fear. “Where d’ya want it love?” the driver enquired. I explained about the difficulty of the stairs. He suggested the hallway or my downstairs kitchen would do – “‘cos it’s only for 10 minutes”. “Oh no” I replied, and explained to him that learning the piano would take at least, all day. He just smiled, but told me he would wait in the van with his mate until teacher arrived. “She’ll sort it out”.
Within minutes Hayley did arrive, a pretty bright thing, exuding enthusiasm – and indeed she did sort it out. The beautiful white Yamaha piano was lifted up and over my front steps, through my hallway and installed unceremoniously in the middle of my kitchen! The delivery procedure was watched by curious neighbours from behind twitching net curtains. Instantly I was at the Piano. Hayley then informed me that I did indeed have only 10 minutes for my lesson – and time was precious! My heart sank but my determination soared as I took up the 10 minute challenge, for the charity Save a London Child.
The day was hot and through the open kitchen door the jarring sounds of scales and the childish rendering of “Twinkle Twinkle little Star” assaulted my neighbour’s ears. They must have assumed that a mature, sophisticated woman like me would be a competent pianist, having just had a swanky white piano delivered! I felt embarrassed, but under Hayley’s instruction continued determinedly. “Find 2 black notes – now which hand? Now both hands together – chord”.
“7 minutes gone” she said “3 to go – how about a bit of Beethoven?” I was fired up, and ready for anything. Mentally substituting number for notes as Hayley instructed, I struggled on determinedly. “Back to position – now again together – chord – don’t rush”
“That’s exactly 10 minutes – well done you did it”. I’d finished. Taking my fingers off the keys I smiled at Hayley with some degree of satisfaction. Instantly the men pounced to remove the Piano to move onto another challenger’s house. “No – wait a minute” I said “Hayley will you please play the Beethoven piece properly because I couldn’t recognise the tune that I’ve just attempted!” Her small dextrous fingers tickled the ivories and Beethoven’s beautiful “Ode to Joy” from Symphony No. 9 resounded across my garden.
20 minutes later the Piano and Hayley had disappeared. The neighbours had watched with amazement, but on hearing the final rendition of Beethoven, had obviously concluded that the Piano was being returned – as not good enough for someone of MY standard. Dream on Diana!!!!!!