Family History · Kindness · Music

The Piano Tuner and the Missing Ring

Even when one is many years past high school graduation, a class ring is a special thing. Even though I might only wear it to reunion parties, it holds a lot of memories. Terry the Piano Tuner came to my house this week, tuned my piano, listened, knew where to look, and found my class ring. I’m enjoying playing the piano again, but I had to stop and tell the story of how I lost my ring and its many travels inside the piano.

Mr. H. and I had moved out to Texas after grad school with a handed-down sleeper sofa, my piano, many boxes of books, a bed we’d purchased and not much else. When we bought a house, it was a zero-lot-line two-story with a postage-stamp-sized lawn on one side. The inside was very cool to our newly-wedded minds: a high-ceilinged “great room” with an open stair leading up to bedrooms, a kitchen and dining nook underneath the master–it was our own little “ski lodge” in the flatlands.

My Krakauer piano fit neatly under the “balcony,” as we called the narrow hallway upstairs between the front and back bedrooms. One of the features of my unusual handmade piano is that the top will prop open similar to grand piano. With so much visual and auditory space in our sparsely furnished room, the piano’s lid was open most of the time.

One morning I was finishing getting dressed while Mr. H. was reading the paper on the sofa downstairs. I ducked out of the bedroom to say something, draping my hands over the railing. My ring fell off! I ran down the stairs stocking-footed, looking all around. I couldn’t find it. Later we pulled the piano away from the wall, looking underneath and in the rear compartments around the sound board. We lifted the lid higher and looked inside with a flashlight for a silvery sparkle of ring. We couldn’t find it.

When we moved back to Atlanta a few years later, I followed the piano out the door and out of the moving van, hoping the ring would shake loose. Two piano tuners checked while tuning, but they both said there was no ring inside the piano. We moved a fourth time, and I let the piano tuning slide for awhile.

This Fall I’ve been practicing at home, getting ready to play hymns for vespers at local retirement apartments. I pulled out my NextDoor App, as it was time to find a piano tuner! My neighbors recommended several, I looked at websites and called, then emailed one, with no response. Then I called another. Finally, a week later, I looked back at NextDoor, choosing another good recommendation. Terry called back within two hours, and we scheduled a time.

Terry showed up right on time, was kind enough to reschedule when I needed to, and tuned the piano beautifully, loosening up several sticky keys. He listened to my lost ring story, looked inside as the others had, then said, “There’s an extra little ledge in the back.” We pulled the piano a couple inches away from the wall, and Terry reached around the corner…

Terry: “There seems to be some paper stuffed in here…” He handed me some bits of pale green with peachy tones on the other side.

Me: “That’s paint chips from my parent’s living room. They painted over that color when I was in high school.” I went to the kitchen to throw the handful away.

Terry: “I got it!” There it was, perfectly preserved in another handful of paint chips, which must be why it never rattled or vibrated against the sound board. When he finished tuning the piano, Terry said it was his best find ever. I’m looking forward to wearing my class ring to my next reunion. It’s been a long time!

If you’re in the Atlanta Area, I recommend Terry of Precision Piano Tuning, notflatnotsharp@yahoo.com. He did a great job of tuning the piano, but he also listened, and bothered to look.

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