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Gone to the Dogs…Etta, Mom and the Piano

Story ID:8305
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Dillon Montana YSA
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Gone to the Dogs…Etta, Mom and the Piano
By Chuck Dishno

I have mentioned before that my grandmother Etta Hartman was a piano teacher. She was a certified teacher who attended the Dunning School of Music in Tacoma, Washington.

Etta’s first love was religious and classical music. Etta taught my Mother, Lura to love and play this kind of music too. She tried to teach me but I was too dumb to realize how much I would enjoy it in later years. One of my biggest regrets.

Etta taught many of the Bly kids the rudiments of piano, putting much emphasis on the piano itself, such as how many keys it had and proper hand position. She used to say you must pretend that your hand is like a chicken coop and keep lots of room between the palm and the keys in order not to crush the little chickens.

She wore her hair in a large bun of braided hair on the back of her head and hidden in that bun was a long yellow pencil which she would whip out at lightning speed and crack the student across the knuckles if she thought they were “crushing the chickens”.

Etta was not a mean person, if anything she was very caring and loved her students, placing many gold stars on their sheet music when they did it right. When Etta wasn’t teaching she entertained herself by playing classical music and sharing this with my Mom.

When those two got together the house fairly rocked and I gained my love for the classics by listening to them pound it out. Sometimes they even sat side by side and played a duet.

We had two dogs who didn’t share in our love for the music though. As soon as Mom or Etta started to play they would sit at the end of the piano and howl in unison. In retrospect, maybe they really did enjoy it and just wanted to join in, but I really think it hurt their ears. Mom and Etta thought it was great sport though and the more they howled the harder they played.

Mom and Etta have both passed on now and I would like to think they are still pounding out that music in Heaven. I hope there are lots of dogs around to “enjoy” the recital.