Monday, July 28, 2008

RAK Round #2

It’s been almost a year now that our neighborhood RAK group has been finding novel ways to spend $400 each month to the betterment of humanity. It’s been so much fun each month to guess what the spenders will do with the money and then to find out what they actually did.

The year has included massage for the elderly, reusable shopping bags given away, “free” gas, a sewing machine given to a young Guatemalan mother, an Arlington clinic waiting room makeover, the start of an education fund, warm gloves for homeless men, and so many other things that touched the lives of young and old in our world.

It’s time to find out who wants to go for a second year. I’m already starting to think about how to spend my money the next time it’s my turn.

Here’s my current idea. Remember this little girl from Glenda’s shower? M is the daughter of the woman who cleans our house, who now has another daughter just a month old. M often comes with her mother when she’s not in school. She quietly colors or reads or practices writing. But she is always drawn to my piano when I sit down to play. Her mother has said how much M would like to play the piano some day.

So I started looking on line and making inquiries and I think I may be able to get a used piano for my $200. It will not be a concert grand, but it may be fine for an 8-year-old girl who is just learning.

There seems to be the occasional piano that just can’t accompany a family who is moving or splitting up or for whatever reason doesn’t need it any longer. I saw several possibilities in the classifieds. Then I called the guy who installed our piano humidifier, whose father just happens to be closing a prominent piano store in Old Town. According to the son, he still has 60-70 pianos to get rid of and he might be interested in seeing that one was earmarked for little M.

I’m in no rush. In fact I don’t even know when my turn will next fall, but probably not before January. So if you run into anyone wanting to get rid of a good used piano at the right price, please let me know. I’m sure one will turn up just when I need it!

My next request will be for beginning piano books. I will have to look for “Teaching Little Fingers to Play”, which may be somewhere in my attic.

I suppose I should also check to make sure M’s family has enough space in their apartment for a piano.


Blogger Mo said...

This is amazing!

I can't wait to read your RAK updates...

11:46 PM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

I have a tons of beginning method books to choose from, but no Teaching Little Fingers. I would love to donate whatever might be useful, but all of my teaching stuff has been in storage for the last three years and I won't have access to them until I am back in my house.

12:24 AM  
Blogger Pauline said...

oh! a perfect idea - I hope Glenda's apartment has room for a piano and that you get a chance to spend your dollars on one for her. Just imagine!

7:38 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Mo -- The RAK experience has proven to me that giving is even more rewarding than receiving! But sometimes the challenge is figuring out how to make an idea happen.

Cyndy -- Perfect! It will be at least 6 months until this happens. Maybe by then the house will be finished!

Pauline -- Glenda's apartment definitely does not have room for a piano. In fact, it barely has room for the 3 adults and 4 children who live there. The piano is for Angelina's little girl.

M is a living miracle, having been born at 24 weeks and weighing only one pound at birth. Angelina knows she would never have survived in Guatemala.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

What an amazing and creative use of the funds. It's something she'll carry with her forever - both the lessons and the memory of the gift.

9:53 AM  
Blogger steve said...

Yeah, they will need room for that Piano, and be sure you have someone good to move it. I moved a piano twice and it was among the top 5 most dangerous things I've ever done.
Even beat out that date with Mona.
And its a great idea...for a kid there is little the world can offer as exciting as owning something so beautifully noisy.

9:56 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- I hope I can make this happen!

Steve -- I will pay someone well qualified to move the piano!

10:01 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

What a great idea! I learned from "Teaching Little Fingers to Play," but I'm sure I don't have my copy anymore...

1:07 PM  
Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

Hi Barbara!
I remember that your RAK of the sewing machine was one of the first things (well, that and the photos of Jake, the wonder dog) that attracted me to your blog.

Mr. R. actually paid to have someone take my grand off our hands. Well, he paid the movers to take it to my niece's boyfriend's house, where it lived for a year. They found a student in Davis who loves it and is taking piano tuning lessons in order to keep it in tip top shape. I am just glad that it has gone to someone who loves it.

My hope is find a little spinet when when buy our next house. In the meantime, I will play on my mother's little piano. Who was your first piano teacher, Barbara? Do you have fond memories of the process?

5:00 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- Remember the Indian wigwam song in that book? That was the highlight of the book for me. It made me think I knew how to play the piano!

Kelly -- Unfortunately I do not have such fond memories of my teacher from age 10-15. He drove a very big long Cadillac that snaked its way to the street in front of our house at 8:30 am every Saturday morning. He smelled of an overdose of aftershave/mouthwash, which I would later learn was to cover up the smell of alcohol because he was an alcoholic who earned his money playing in a night club when he wasn't teaching. He had absolutely no social skills with children, but he would inevitably try to get me to talk in between pieces each week. I remember playing Chopin's Militaire Polonnaise for a full year and developing a love/hate relationship with the piece as I committed it to memory. He didn't hold recitals, so I never even knew who his other students were. He once told me he would write a piece for me if I had an exceptional lesson. He never did. Even though he was a (harmless) weirdo, I loved playing the piano.

5:12 PM  
Blogger steve said...

"They laughed when I sat down to play the Piano!" That was the hook on the ad that used to be in my Boys life magazine.

I can still play "The Penguin Polka" and "Drink to Me only With thine Eyes"

I thought Polonaise was Bread Crumb, Hard Boiled Eggs and Butter?
Hi barb!
OK...i'm through.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve #1 -- You are SO BAD! You were probably one of those people who could play by ear, something I could never do.

6:19 PM  

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