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The Prairie Family has a new-to-us acoustic piano!  We are delighted!  I have always loved my digital piano and really wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I have wanted to get a “regular” piano for quite awhile.  My kids have always practiced on my digital piano, but when they play in public, it is usually on an acoustic.  The touch of an acoustic is just different enough that it takes them a little bit to adjust.

This particular piano belonged to a special couple who were leaders in my church when I was growing up.  They have both recently passed away, and their daughter thought I might like to have the piano.  Dan and I both agreed that we would love to have the piano, but we really weren’t sure that we could get it into our house!  Our house has sharp turns at each of its entrances, and we have always had problems moving large objects in and out of our house.  That’s probably why we waited so long to get a piano–we had no idea how we’d get it in here!  We told them that we’d do some checking around about moving the piano and that we would be happy to give it a new home if we could figure out the details.

We definitely live “on the prarie,” and there are few resources like piano movers in our area.  The nearest option was in a larger town 1 1/2 hours away.  We contacted that music store to see if they could help us, and they said they could do that, but we would have to pay mileage, delivery fees, etc.  We explained the doors of our house, and they thought they’d be able to get the piano in, so we said that we’d like to be put on their list.  Well, within a few days, they called and had other pianos to deliver in our area anyway, so they said they’d come move the piano for the regular fee for delivering in their own town!  Boy, were we happy!  So, they loaded up the piano, brought it to our house, squeezed it through the door/entry way by tipping it on its side, and set it down in its new home.  Their service was well worth the price of having them do it–they knew how to tip the piano and move it safely.

The kids love this piano!  It sits in the same room as my computer, right in the middle of our upstairs.  The kids all have songbooks at the piano and sit down to play for fun very, very often.  They consider the digital their “serious practice” instrument, and this piano the “fun” instrument.  Now, that is cool–seeing them play just for fun the things they like is very rewarding!  Kara has discovered that she can play and read the notes well enough to learn songs on her own.  She is currently working herself through a beginner hymn book and is memorizing the songs as she goes!  🙂 Brock, who has not played the piano for several years, has also begun sitting down to plunk out songs.  He has discovered that he remembers more than he thought he did, and that playing the piano is actually fun!  He is considering starting back up with lessons, and I think that would be great.

So, we are very happy to have this new-to-us piano.  It is filling our home with happy sounds!

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These are some random lessons that we learned from our time with the college’s production of “Paint Your Wagon:”

  1. Get copies of the complete script of scenes where your character(s) appear in a very early rehearsal, and then learn those lines as soon as possible.  Memorizing the lines is only the beginning of knowing your part.
  2. Work on locating costumes after the very first meeting.  It takes awhile to research what is needed and find the best sources.
  3. Our local second-hand store is a fantastic resource for costumes!
  4. Sometimes ordering costumes is cheaper than making costumes……
  5. Have any needed props in your hands well before you are on stage.  🙂
  6. “Project, Project, PROJECT YOUR VOICE!”  (quote from our wonderful director!)
  7. Background characters are a lot of fun.  They really are what you make them to be.  Develop your person’s character and plan interesting things for them to do “in the background.”
  8. ENERGY is key to selling the musical to the audience; FOCUS is the key to being believable to the audience.
  9. Start school earlier–the earlier, the better.  Musicals require a lot of time and energy, and having the flexibility to have days off is worth a few days earlier in August.
  10. Scene changes are every bit as important as any other part of the production.  They need to be choreographed, planned, organized, and practiced.

Lessons from the Pit Orchestra:

  1. There is no need to be shy–play out!  A loud mistake is better than a timid performance.
  2. Attend as many practices and run-throughs as possible.  You can never be too familiar with the show.
  3. MARK EVERYTHING IN THE MUSIC!  There are lots of cuts, repeats, etc.  They need to be marked in a sensible way so nothing is missed during a performance.
  4. (Going along with #3) Bring several sharpened pencils to each practice!
  5. Bring a bag.  By the time the whole family has chorus books, scripts, and orchestra parts, there are a lot of things to carry.  Then you add in props and supplies and you need an even bigger bag!

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This role of Gavroche is one that Kara and Luke would fight over!



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Scooping Snow

It has been very dry on the Prairie.  It is not unusual for us to have had several snows by this time of the winter season, but this year has been different.  We’ve had a few flurries here and there, but nothing much to speak of until December 31. The kids were soooo happy! They couldn’t wait to get out and play in the snow.  (Yes, they consider scooping the driveway playing in the snow!)  There were several very fun snowball wars in the backyard for the next couple of days.  It’s mostly melted now, but the kids are looking forward to the next snow!

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