Sometime mid-July, our impending departure from Melbourne became real.  We’ve known it was coming (for 2 years now); it was bound to happen. 

The catalyst?  I listed my piano for sale.

The listing made the move real for me.  It was the first tangible step in a series of step that will culminate in us packing up our lives, shipping off our pets, and finding ourselves, once again, starting over.

I bought the piano shortly after arriving in Melbourne, and it’s been a great friend through my time in Melbourne.  Those cold Saturday mornings in the dead of dreary winter, those hot Saturday afternoons in the summer with only a scant breeze, those fleeting minutes when I’ve missed the 8:59am tram and manage to fit in just one more song before I catch then next one…

I had honestly forgotten how important music was in my life. How some days (maybe all days?) there’s really nothing I’d rather be doing.

Having trained in classical piano as a child, my second life in music has been an inspiration to try something new – music for the sake of music.  No lessons, no performances, no parental overlord reminding me to practice (helpful as that was, really it was!).  I’ve come to terms with the fact I will never be able to play those Chopin nocturnes again like I used to at 17 (unless I quit my job and magically find 2+ hours per day to practice).   

But I’ve found new enjoyment in less technical and more soulful playing.  In my first life as a pianist, I played strictly by reading or memorizing sheet music; I have never had an ear for playing as they say.  Slowly but surely, I’ve  re-learned the basics of chords and scales and how to  improvise. I play when I want to play, and most days, there just aren’t enough minutes in the day. 

So it is with great pride that I hammered out my very first “arrangement” a few weeks ago: a version of “Stay with Me”, a 1960s ballad originally performed by Lorraine Ellison.  After buying the sheet music, I realized it was in the wrong key for what I wanted to (and could) sing.  So I painstakingly, over the course of an entire Saturday, I readjusted the chords and handwrote the melody on blank sheet music.  It was a song I longed to sing, and felt I had to master. 

It is a ballad dedicated to my 1901 G. Schwechten.

And just as I perfect my pièce de résistance, just as I’ve grown comfortable in the simple key changes that seemed so daunting to hammer out by ear, just as I learn to slip away from carefully dotted notes and go wherever my fingers and vocal chords want to take me, just as I grasp one last time at the ivories… I find they’re slipping away.  

So if you find yourself walking the streets in Richmond, you’ll probably hear the refrain… Stay with me, baby.  Please stay, with me baby… 

at least, for a few more weeks…