Donna Ulisse

Singer, Songwriter, Bluegrass Poet

#5...The Pink Upright Piano

They found me a teacher that in my young mind would have made a good bride for Methuselah. Complete with snow white hair combed back and shaped into a tight, cheerless bun, a dark dress with a crocheted collar on it starched until it could have cut something in half, a severe expression that kept you thinking she was smelling something unpleasant and a ruler that she used to smack at any hand not curled in the right shape on the piano keys. I dreaded Tuesdays like I was going to a dentist's office to have twenty cavities filled. My mom would diligently drive me across town to this house of horrors for my weekly lesson in FEAR. You can bet that the one thing I could do right every single time was have my hands in the correct position. These Tuesday torture sessions made me look at my pink piano like it was a back stabbing friend. For awhile I would avoid the den entirely until my mom would ask the daily question that I still hear in my nightmares today: "Have you practiced your piano yet?" Oh, I would walk as slowly as I could into the now hated den and plop down on the bench in front of my pink enemy. Plunk, plunk, plunk!

Then a miracle happened. My angel Bonna taught me something that drove that scary piano teacher insane. My Bonna taught me how to play by ear. What musical freedom! With the help of my guardian angel grandmother, I learned how to sound out my favorite songs. With the help of the dreaded Tuesdays I learned how to read notes and later chart out my favorite songs. This tense relationship went on long enough to turn me into a hybrid kind of piano player; read a little, cheat a little. The real blessing in all of this is that my beautiful, pink upright piano was once again my beloved friend. We kept that pink giant until my dad found another one (brown, more to my mother's liking). The brown one stayed with me into my adulthood. I've since forgotten how dad got rid of the pink upright but I'm sure that somewhere some little girl fell as hard for it as I did.