Beer Cans and Necklaces

Early in his career, Richard was a concert pianist.  He’s still in demand.  Some venues are a challenge. A recent one turned out to be just that, with a bit of humor added.

Richard and his wife Loydeen were invited to the wedding of a friend’s niece.  He was also asked to give a concert at the wedding.   Richard agreed, with some apprehension.

When invited, his host assured him they had a piano.

“Saying we have a piano,” Richard said later, “can sometimes be like an invitation to compete in the Indy 500 and . . . after being assured you will have a car . . . finding out you’ll be driving an old Volkswagen Beetle.”

And so it was this time.

The wedding was a two-day drive.  No problem. But Richard guessed – correctly as it turned out – the piano he would be playing was nowhere near his accustomed standards.  But then, that would take some doing.  You see, Richard owns a full-sized grand piano.  That’s a nine-foot sleek black musical instrument hand made in Germany.  It’s almost priceless.  They bought their house specifically to accommodate this Stradivarius of pianos.


Richard and Loydeen arrived three days before the wedding.  Richard knows and is deeply committed to the virtues of preparing his hands and – equally important – checking out the pianos he’s asked to play.

Turns out, this time said piano was well beyond a disaster!

Among other things, the piano had not been tuned for decades.  It was clearly suffering from a history of going to numerous events in the back of pickups, including summers at family cottages.


So, Richard wasn’t surprised when he discovered the white key for the note ‘A’ above middle ‘C’ stuck down when played.  That is, it would go down . . . and stay down.  This meant that during his entire half-hour concert, Richard would get to use that key only once.  The joke emerged that Richard needed to decide exactly where during his concert that he most wanted to use that note . . . just the one time.

Richard concluded, if there were to be a concert, he would have to see about freeing up the sticking key.  Oil and pianos don’t mix, so another remedy was required.  His review of the decrepit upright piano also revealed that one of the three floor pedals was prone to emitting an unconcert-like squawk when pushed down with his foot.

Now, Richard can be quite handy when called upon.  After all, a Swiss Army knife is his constant companion.  Regardless, he is happy to let others repair pianos . . . he prefers to do the playing.   But this time, there no “others” to do the job, so he and his Swiss Army knife went to work.

Off came the front panel under the keyboard.  What his eyes feel upon amused and shocked him so much that he called his sister to come have a look.   He asked her to not enter the room until she heard the pedal squawking.  She did, and that’s when she saw what Richard had discovered . . . six empty beer cans nestled at the bottom of the piano, one of them wedged beneath a lever activated by the offending pedal, making that well known beer-can crunch.  Seems someone had been dispatching his or her empties through an opening in the back of the piano.


Richard turned his attention next to the sticking ‘A’ key.  He knew the usual cause was the alignment of various shafts and joints connecting the keys to the hammers that strike the strings.  Richard began checking all the connections. At first, everything seemed to be in order.  Then he looked more closely.  Nestled at the base of one connection was a solid gold necklace, owner unknown.  How it got there, equally unknown.


Richard’s playing was brilliant . . . his concert well received, as always.


Copyright 2013 By James Osborne  All Rights Reserved

One thought on “Beer Cans and Necklaces

  1. A fascinating tale, as usual, Jim. I was a bit disappointed in the ending, though. I thought it might be improved by having him sell the solid gold necklace and have the old piano completely restored with the proceeds. Just a thought! I also think he would have had to do a lot more work on the piano than just getting rid of the beer cans and necklace. Apparently, he must have done so is his playing was “brilliant”. .I’ve had my share of horrible experiences trying to play old, decrepit and out-of-tune pianos. Would that I knew how to tune them.


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