Post #309 In which I nearly pay $70 for a penny

I dissected a piano today, a real live one too. And I didn't screw it up. At a loss for linking the blog post title with my first sentence of the entry? Read on for the explanation...

The setting:
I am at the dinner table, eating soup. Hayley is at the piano, practicing.

The problem:
Hayley says, "I want to tell you something." Side note: When Hayley says she wants to tell me something, it means she can't actually tell me. She either beats around the bush with words that don't fit together, or she points. She did neither in this case. She poked at high A on the piano. High A did not give, nor did it make a sound. Earlier in the day, I practiced my songs on the piano and high A worked just fine (too bad my fingers don't work very well). But now, I poked at high A and it was jammed.

The discovery process:
Like many of the human race, I am a curious person. When something doesn't work, I want to know why (unless it's a car. Then I just want to throw money at the car and tell it to stop acting up). My first reaction was that I would need to call the piano tuner--her card is in my piano bench. I wondered how much she'd charge? Probably about the same as a tuning up. $70. But then curiousity stood next to me and said, "What would happen if you tried to solve the problem yourself? At least try to have a look. You know you want to take it apart..." I have seen my piano tuner take off the front of the piano and fiddle with the strings. I figured I have two hands, I can take off some of the piano panels and with any luck, I'll get to the bottom of the jammed key problem myself. Not knowing exactly how far I could take apart the piano without having it fall apart into pieces that I couldn't put back together, I started with the front panel.

This piano belonged to my grandmother. It was the heart of her home, in my eyes. The house had two hearts, though, my grandpa tended the garden, which was the other heart--the outside heart. Grandma taught lessons at the piano and very rarely let me play it. On top of the piano was a table runner. On that was a picture of my Uncle Bill in his Air Force uniform. There was also a little aqua blue calendar dial that my grandma kept up to date. There were other pictures as well, but the faces are lost in the fog of long-time-ago. I longed to play that piano, but I was somehow counted unworthy. When grandma moved to the nursing home, the piano went to my cousin and his family. When my cousin moved out of state, my mother called me with excitement in her voice. "Your cousin is moving and wants to get rid of grandma's piano. He wants to keep it in the family. Do you want it??" She was almost demanding that I take it. I did want it. Jim and I cleared a space for it in our townhouse basement and we took the piano in. And when we moved to this house, we hired piano movers to move the piano. Coincidentally, the company was called Ruth Piano and Organ Movers or something like that. Ruth was my grandma's name. I love my piano. I get it tuned regularly and I have been told by both tuners who have come to look at it that it is a fine instrument in very good shape.

The fix:
I took off the front panel. That wasn't enough. I couldn't get at the obstruction. I took off the keyboard cover. The key still wouldn't lift up enough to get at the problem. With a screwdriver, I took off a wooden bar that lay across all the keys just behind the back of the black keys. That worked. I lifted high A up as far as it would go and saw the reason for the jam: a penny. I removed the penny and high A thanked me in her squeaky high A voice.

And unlike all the king's horses and all the king's men with Humpty Dumpty, I put my piano together again.

This is what the piano looks like with its guts showing.
Two pieces I took off.
Another piece--the wooden bar--I took off with the screwdriver.
Ghostly fingers playing the piano after I performed the penny-ectomy and before I sewed the piano back up.
More musical innards.I don't know how the penny got jammed where it did. I can only assume fake child was involved somehow. Those slots between keys are awfully tempting to put things into. But all is well, and I will not dwell on the crime shrouded in mystery.

Oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to a Concerned Citizen, who won't see this because he's on a hunting trip. Probably while wearing a jumpsuit. And a monocle.


That is so cool that you have THE piano!!

(He wears a monocle too???? I thought the whole "April O'neil Jumpsuit" thing was scary enough).
HA! No he doesn't really, although he has expressed interest in wearing one. (I giggle, but at the same time, I empathize with his wife who has to endure his flights of fancy)
Jen said…
I'm still laughing after Audrey's surprise that Mike would have a monocle, too. Let's just not talk about it anymore because he'll see this and then will really want to start wearing a monocle. Heee, heee, heee!

Wow, you sure were lucky to discover that penny. I suppose you're the second handiest person I know. Mike would be the first. My parents are dead last. And by dead I mean that they rank lower than the people who are not handy who are already dead. That's how handy they are. I'm not sure why I just rambled on about that.

I talked to Mike a little while ago, and I totally forgot to wish him a happy birthday. Am I a bad wife? Honestly though, I don't think he remembered or even cared. He's doing what he loves best, so that's enough of a birthday present or wish for himself. I reckon I better honor him with a birthday blog post.

After that I'm back to working on my Roman shades. Yay!
dave said…
Would Charlie Lord have charged Mom $70 to remove a penny from the piano? I don't know if Charlie Lord was any good at tuning a piano, but whatever Mom paid it was worth it to us kids. That kind of entertainment does not have a price tag.
Karie said…
You are a brave woman. I don't think I would have wanted to take apart the piano for fear of having it explode into a cloud of strings and ivory. Obviously, it worked out well for you!

Nice pics, too, btw.
froggybaby said…
You are so brave. I would have never dared to take the panels off a piano. Not with my luck!!
Jessie said…
Bon's mom bought an old timey piano and wanted to re-paint from natural stained wood to "distressed" white. She took the piano apart as much as possible so that it's gut are exposed, painted the top of the piano bench, and never got any further. They gave it to Bon when we got married and now it sits, all bare and naked, in our spare bedroom. I don't really know what ot do with it, but Bon insists on keeping it.