In Augusta last Sunday, I wandered into the Historical Museum in the centre of town. Amongst the collections of shipping paraphernalia, faded photographs, pieces of crockery and cream lace, sat two old pianos – and I mean old – one was manufactured in Stuttgart in 1830 and the other around 1900.
As I left I asked the elderly volunteer whether anyone ever played them. ‘Sadly no,’ he replied, ‘and what they need is a good work out!’
I told him I would love to play them but feared that my basic and rusty keyboard skills would never do them justice and we said our goodbyes.
There was something though that begged me to go back, so taking some sheet music with me (I am a far worse pianist without the music than with it) I asked the old gentleman’s permission to play. ‘You’d be doing the community a favour,’ he said.
After I stumbled awkwardly through easy versions of Moonlight Sonata, The Norwegian Cradle Song and Fur Elise, I eventually moved on to an old favourite of my grandfather’s, ‘Danny Boy’ when, without warning, I found I was being accompanied by a beautiful tenor voice.
My piano skills could not match the old man’s velvet notes and sadly I had to retire, but he continued. Bill told me later that not so long ago, he’d sung the leading role in Augusta’s performance of ‘The Fiddler on the Roof.’
Sometimes we are meant to go back.