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From Generations of Passion to the 130-Year-Old Chickering Grand Piano!

The Jones Family Piano!

The Jones Family Piano!

My Legacy of Music My name is Christine Jones. I am 67 years old and have been married to my high school sweetheart for 45 years. I am blessed to be the mother of 4 incredible humans, and the Grammy of 5 incredibly adorable grandchildren. I taught elementary school in Nebo School district for 37 years and retired in 2017. I am also a breast cancer survivor, having been diagnosed and treated in 2021. I was raised in Burley, Idaho by a mother and father who valued faith, family, education and music and who taught my sister and me to value those too. I'd like to share my story with you. Let me begin with my mother. She was born in 1918 in rural Montana (oh wait, I guess all of Montana is rural). She was blessed with an active and creative mind. From an early age, she loved learning, books, drawing, painting, and riding horses. She was first introduced to music by what might seem an unlikely source, her beloved Uncle Doc. He was a World War I veteran, government trapper, alcoholic, and recluse of sorts, who loved to play the violin. Music soothed his troubled soul and gave him expression that words could not. She loved to hear him play and, because they bonded through music, he promised to leave her his violin when he died. When he died tragically at age 36, there was trouble over who would inherit the treasured violin. His father said there was "no way" my mother, who was only 8 years old, would appreciate such a precious heirloom, but the womenfolk insisted it be given to her to fulfil his promise. Throughout her life, my mother absolutely treasured that violin and its secret ingredient. He had put rattlesnake rattles into the violin which deepened and sweetened its tone quality. She did him proud as she became a very fine violinist and taught violin lessons when she was in college. She owned several violins during her life, but that one was extra special. My love of music came to me because of the legacy and love of music which he shared with her. An unlikely source of legacy? No, that's the cool thing about music. It can touch anyone, anywhere, and can last a lifetime and down through generations! Much later, when she felt we were ready, my mother found the most highly recommended piano teacher in the area, and my sister and I began lessons. My sister started lessons at age 9, and I started at age 7 in 1964. Lessons were Saturday mornings at 7:00 am in the neighboring town of Rupert. We were greeted by 2 of the snippiest, yappiest Pekingese dogs ever! Our teacher was approximately 75 years old, but we thought she was at least 100! She was "Old School" all the way. She was dressed to the nines at every lesson (remember, it was 7 am Saturday morning). She wore huge earrings clipped onto her enormous ear lobes. She'd collapse back into her soft rocking chair because her knees did not bend properly. (I now sympathize with that!) Honestly, she scared the crap out of us! I was a timid child to begin with and was not keen on practicing during the week (oh the battles with my poor mom), so the lessons were pretty stressful. Mistakes were the enemy! Nonetheless, my mother prevailed (as all mothers should), and I learned to play the piano. Mrs. M didn't believe in student recitals because she felt it would reflect poorly on her if her students did not perform flawlessly. For this reason, I could play fairly well after 5-6 years, but was petrified to play anything in front of anyone except my immediate family. My sister was a very gifted young pianist (well, she practiced, for Pete's sake), but the pressure of the lessons was making her anxious. So we stopped taking lessons, and Mrs. M passed away soon after in 1971. Her declining health must have been a factor in her inability to share more of the joy of music those last few years. She had taught piano and voice for over 50 years. You've got to respect her for that legacy! I took piano lessons later from the wife of our high school choir director. I love singing soprano in Bel Cantos. It was a time of growth and progress for me as a musician. I learned to appreciate many different genres of music. When I began teaching First Grade at age 22, I still had that fear of playing-even in front of my 6 year old students. I didn't want them to hear any mistakes. But gradually, I started to let the fear go because I knew the powerful effect music has. In my long teaching career, music became an integral part of the day. With a piano in my room, we started everyday with 2-3 fun songs to wake us up and bring us together. I have binders and binders of music, and acquired all kinds of fun props over the years to make singing joyful. We also had a weekly Singing Time (besides the school's Music core) for the grade level (usually around 75-100 children) which I loved playing for. Then, Wonder of Wonders, I was able to accompany for our annual 2nd Grade programs where parents and extended families attended. I also was able to accompany for whole school programs with hundreds of people in the audience. Was I perfect? No, but it didn't matter because it was amazing and fun and memorable! When I retired from teaching, at age 60, one of the things people mentioned most was that my classroom was always filled with love and music- my legacy to my students! The latest example of my growth came recently when I volunteered to be the ward organist because our last organist developed eye problems. (What was I thinking?) After 8 months, it's getting better, but it is still scary and challenging. That's OK, though. I don't have to be perfect. Right?
As for my piano, I bought it in 2018 from a lady in Springville on Face Book Marketplace. She had an antique Chickering and Sons grand piano for sale at a reasonable price. She had purchased it a few years prior from a family that had passed it down from generation to generation. So although I don't have a long history with this piano, it has a history and legacy as a family heirloom. The piano is just like me-not perfect. I love its age and admire its makers who created an instrument that has lasted for over 130 years. Amazing! I respect that! Now it just needs your expertise and lots of TLC to bring it back to a better version of itself. It's hard to keep in tune, and the finish is worn and damaged. I think it is a "perfect" piece for your Restoration Contest. Let's give the Chickering new life, so its legacy can inspire the next generation! Thank you for your time and consideration! You have an awesome mission in restoring life to these wonderful old pianos. Note-We moved from Utah to Missouri 4.5 years ago to help our son and his family. Moving the piano back to Utah would be necessary and hopefully covered by part of the contest prize.

  • YEAR 1800-1900
  • MAKE From Generations of Passion to the 130-Year-Old Chickering Grand Piano!
  • FINISH Walnut
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