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Chuck Hinman: IJMA. Lost: Middle C

Lost: Middle C. Chuck says a belly button is a navigation tool to help line one up at the piano.
Next earlier Chuck Hinman column - Somebody's sitting in my chair

By Chuck Hinman

Lost: Middle C

Anyone whose Mom forced them at the tip of the family gun to take piano lessons when they were little has heard of 'Middle C.' It's where a piano teacher starts in getting little people oriented to the vagaries of the piano keyboard.

All those keys on the piano and they look alike

Just consider, there are eighty-eight keys, and they all look alike; there are seven different key names running the alphabet from 'A through G' and to make it absolutely formidable there are eight of each of those keys named 'A through G.' And that's just talking about the white keys -- there are a jillion black ones. Give up?

Well, help is on the way. There are some tricks you can learn which for an ornery eight year old boy are pretty exciting. What boy at that age has not explored his body enough to know all about that cute little medallion in the middle of his stomach with the B-word name -- 'BELLY BUTTON'? My Mom tried to shush me into softening that B-word by saying 'na-vel' but it didn't take. Smart-aleck kid!

The belly button is a navigation tool

Most moms don't have a clue as to what a boy can do with his belly button; apparently girls don't come equipped with belly buttons and it's just a little boy thing. But I'm not sure about that.

It took my piano teacher to explain that it is a 'navigation tool' (oh -- yeah!) used by famous piano players like Paderewski to know where to sit down in front of the piano so you will be able to play the whole song without having to scoot around on the piano bench. She demonstrated that when I stood in front of the keyboard my little 'tummy' button should be lined up with the middle of eight C's on the piano keyboard. 'Swell!' (same word as 'cool!')

Belly button lost as weight gained

I enjoyed that gem of information almost more than anything else I learned at that first lesson. And it has served me well until about mid-life when I started putting on weight.

To be truthful, I haven't seen my belly button in going on forty years. I could, if I could see better, stand in front of the bathroom mirror and tug at my considerable gut and with a flashlight tell that I have a belly button somewhere in there. I gave up doing that because Connie was always barging in the bathroom without knocking and it got embarrassing explaining what the flashlight was for. (Eight batteries!)

Still playing piano but not as well

Well, after 83 years I still play the piano but not as well; but I have some good excuses. My vision has gone to pot so I can't see the notes; my hearing has gone to pot so that I can't hear what I'm playing; and worst of all, my 'pot has gone to pot' so I have difficulty sitting in front of Middle C when I sit down to play.

I have lost my belly button -- the nemesis of a piano player.

Written by Chuck Hinman. Emailed Sunday, 11 October 2009.

This story was posted on 2014-07-27 03:45:04
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