More delightful is the BIG gift, a very nice electronic keyboard, way more than a piano, something I haven't had intimate access to for nearly 30 years. When we embarked on this journey to the tropics, like missionaries, we left behind a junky old upright, probably a church basement castaway, that I enjoyed when we lived in the country and no one could hear me play. I used to tune it myself. (Frequently, in the way you might cut your own hair, a constant touching up.) I have a tuning hammer, a very lovely crafted tool for which I now have absolutely no use. The upright was pretty much the same piece of furniture I grew up with, a player piano with the player guts removed and which my mother painted white in some fit of purity. At some point in my disastrous childhood piano lesson trajectory, the piano, which I think was my grandmother's, was moved to the basement where I played/practiced so no one could hear me. I was a terrible pianist. I liked the playing part, but the practice baffled me.
When I left home and my basement piano, I went through a self-taught ukelele and guitar phase. My college roommate sat on my uke, (perhaps a foreshadowing of my destiny in Hawaii) and no longer could I play All My Loving, all cute and Paul McCartney, like a primitive and talentless Jake Shimabukuro. The guitar saw me through a few more folky/hippie years, but really, my first love was the piano. I had a teacher whose name actually was Ludwig, who allowed us access to his fabulous upright Steinway; I imagined if I had THAT piano at home, instead of the lobotomized player, I would have been more accomplished. Today I am distressed now that I cannot find my copy of Sonata Pathetique, the most advanced I ever got under Ludwig's tutelage and vague sexual abuse. (The old shaggy white-haired German liked to stroke our backs as we worked through the Sonatas.) Not that I played it very well. (Although I just found that I can download the score; it looks really scary. I need to practice.) Then the old country upright saw me through a free phase, where I discovered that I didn't have to play what was written, I could play what I wanted. No practice, no sticky stars on the pages of my piano lesson books, I could just play. It was liberating. (But I sorta missed Ludwig.)
So now, the electronic keyboard. What I locate for music are my old Methodist and Episcopal Hymnals from 1939 and 1940: Christmas music to break in the keyboard. Not just a piano. An organ setting! A strings setting! A guitar setting! Automatic salsa rhythm! What fun! Like any number of great R&B legends, I start with that good old gospel music. (Although some of it is Handel and Bach.) I have three volumes of Hours with the Masters (which my friend and I called "Hours with the Monsters") stored somewhere...most of which is dreadful except for the notation for Fur Elise. It is possible that the Wizard has discarded them somewhere (he finds Mozart too "tinkly" and Beethoven too...piano teacher-ish. Ah, how I miss Herr Ludwig.). The Wizard urges me to play themes from Scheherazade, for which I can find some beginner-accessible sheet music. And it is lovely.
So far, though, I am only performing with the earphones, not quite ready to inflict my unpracticed fingering (including my permanently dislocated left pinky) on a listener other than myself. Still, to me, it sounds pretty good. I am much less concerned with playing the RIGHT written notes....just notes that sound pretty and expressive. It's a little like my Chinese painting. It's all about the doing, not the done.