Began Piano Lessons

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, June 13, 1913:  Started to take music lessons today. Went up to McEwensville this afternoon on some business.

piano.keys

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I assume that the lessons will be piano lessons since Grandma wrote on March 29, 1913:

. . . Ma bought a piano. I’m so glad for now I can learn to play.

Grandma  was 18-years-old. This seems relatively old to me to be starting piano lessons. Was she looking for new activities now that she had graduated from high school?

41 Responses

  1. I tried to learn the piano at 50 years of age. It didn’t work out so well but ,then, I was trying to teach myself!

  2. I just want you to know that your work on this blog is BRILLIANT!!!
    Thank you for sending it everyday.
    Sheila

    • Thanks for taking a moment to write the nice note. I have a lot of fun doing this blog and it’s always wonderful to hear when someone enjoys it.

  3. I agree. I really love this blog, especially as I’m exploring the details of my father’s background from the time he left Sweden in 1907 at the age of 17. It gets really exciting discovering what was going on in history at the time.

    As for this entry, it may be too old for today’s children who get bombarded with activities from the time they start to walk, but I’ll bet the pace was slower for this kind of activity 100 years ago, and the financial wherewithal less.

    • Thanks for the kind words. It makes sense that people make take up activities like piano lessons at a later age in days gone by.

  4. I, too, thought 18 was a bit old to be learning piano. But I think it’s wonderful that Grandma’s so excited about it!

  5. One is never too old. Do you know if she kept it up and played the piano as an adult?

    • I don’t think that she kept it up. When I was a child she did not have a piano in her house, and I can’t remember ever hearing her play.

  6. Yes, I, too, am curious how far her lessons went. Or whether the piano was used by others in the family. What kind of music, too? Hymns, popular sheet music, dance tunes?
    Still, you’re fortunate to find even this bit in the genealogy. I think how much I’ve found in a single letter that open into broad vistas on an individual’s character and outlook.

    • I am very fortunate to have the diary. I’ve also wondered about what types of music a beginning piano student would play a hundred years ago. I’ve try to find beginning lesson books from back then, but haven’t had any luck.

  7. Did she keep up with it? Was she a piano playing Grandma? :)

    • She wasn’t a piano playing Grandma–and until I ready this diary I had no idea that she’d ever played.

      • Just wanted to let you know that I sent you an invitation to my new blog (it’s an invite only blog). Realized you probably wouldn’t know who it’s from. It’s called Love, Laura. :)

  8. I started to take guitar lessons when I was 27…I thought I was old too but now I really am old and was young then, LOL

  9. She didn’t have blogging or t.v. for diversions, so playing the piano would have been a wonderful outlet. I love her comment about going to town on business. She is feeling quite adult now at 18! What sort of “business” I wonder?

    • hmm–Maybe she went to town to buy machinery repairs for her father. When I was a teen, farm machinery often broke during the busy harvest season and I’d get sent to, town to buy the repairs. . . .

  10. I don’t think you’re ever too old if it gives you pleasure! :)

  11. 18 does seem old to learn piano… going to McEwansville for business sounds mysterious and intriguing. I wonder what kind of business….

  12. Isn’t it nice that they didn’t consider her too old for lessons?!

  13. i learnt pop piano after being a mother to while my time away when the kids were at school but alas… my fingers were too short and no longer nimble :)

    • It sounds like a fun thing to do while your kids were in school even if your fingers weren’t as nimble as they’d once been. :)

  14. That’s absolutely lovely. I hope she enjoyed the lessons.

  15. I had forgotten about the piano. I’m glad she gets to take lessons. I wonder if she spent some of her graduation money on them.

  16. Pianos were a real status symbol during the early 20th century. I have a book of floor plans for Aladdin Homes designed during the 1910s. Every floor plan includes the ideal layout for furniture in each room. In the living room would be a reading lamp, a small table with a radio and a piano against one wall. Helena’s family must have been doing well to not only buy the piano, but to have the space for it and the extra income to pay for her lessons. I hope she writes more about them.

    • I’ve read that radios were also considered status symbols back then–though the Muffly’s won’t have had one since they didn’t have electricity.

  17. Hi Sheryl. I like the photo and the chips in the ivory keys. There are chips in the keys on my piano too. I wonder what music book they learned from and what song she first played. Jane

  18. Well, I started piano in seventh grade. I’m now seventeen and I’d still like to learn to play the flute. I’m glad she got the opportunity to have a piano in the house! Even today, a real piano’s a big deal.

  19. […] dear, Grandma just began taking piano lessons on June 13—it’s sad that she’s already tiring of […]

  20. […] only began taking lessons in June. Yet this is the second diary entry where she mentions  that her mother wanted her to practice […]

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