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Group 554
House & Homestead Ranch & Real Life

Tune Up

March brings warmer weather, a little mud (if you’re lucky), an awakening of gophers (if you’re less lucky), and the piano tuner.

If you were playing a game of “one of these things is not like the other” and had to select a single item from our camp that fit that criteria, most would look to my beautiful grand piano. There is nothing about our home – not the lingering smell of manure, nor the multiple loads of laundry looking to be folded, nor the kids armed and ready with their BB guns – that says “I bet a classical pianist lives here.” Yet, here I am!

Growing up, my parents had a nice Baldwin piano where I plinked away over years of lessons, music festivals, piano exams, and even the disciplined drudgery of theory. Perhaps this inspired my dad who, rather than have the local music festival return the Yamaha back to its city habitat after that year’s event, diverted it to our farm. He had budgeted for a new hay bine for the upcoming season, but instead invested in this musical machine with the instruction that if (when) the old New Holland limped back to the shop for repair, I was to play the piano loud. Dad did upgrade the hay bine a year or two later and I got fairly experienced at operating that unit too.

Like any musical or mechanical implement, the piano needs a little maintenance every so often. I’m sure that piano tuners encounter all kinds of situations when they travel to different homes, and that is a great comfort when I consider some of their experiences here. One time I was expecting the knock at the door to be said tuner, but instead it was a surprising (and welcome) visit from friends. A long afternoon of swapping stories and daytime beverage consumption ensued. Our rowdy cowboy company joked that they could probably tune my piano and I assured them (insisted, really) that we should leave it to a qualified professional. When the expert did arrive to this redneck scene, he was greeted warmly and loudly by everyone on site.

During that session, he recovered numerous odd articles from within the piano, some of which I could blame on the kids. When he extracted a long-lost food item, I had to admit that probably fell under the realm of sketchy housekeeping. Finally, as the he was finishing up this particular appointment, my toddler daughter – who never coloured on the walls before or since – thought this was a great opportunity to make her mark. If this guy was writing a book, he could file this visit under the hillbilly chapter.

To be clear, this tuning service is incredibly professional and most diplomatic, something I appreciate greatly. Subsequent appointments have gone smoothly with delightful musical outcomes. Yet, the memories from that specific day are very motivating for me. I now do a pre-tuning sweep of the interior of the piano as well as a thorough living room clean. And I lock down the kids’ art supplies. And keep the liquor cabinet shut.

The general chaos around our ranch and home can make our life seem off key, but it’s nothing that some fine tuning can’t fix. That, and patience.