‘Don’t Shoot the Piano Player’ for Ese’s Challenge

Ese’s ‘Shoot and Quote Challenge’ this week is “Music.”


Just recently, I was reminded of this quote, “Don’t shoot the piano player; he’s doing the best he can.” I wondered about its origin, and found that it originated about 1860 in the ‘Wild West’ of the USA. Oscar Wilde saw it written on a sign in a Leadville, Colorado saloon, when he visited in 1882, and since then, it’s become a well known saying. I guess it was meaning that it wasn’t the pianist that was at fault, but the piano that was out of tune.


Some of you may know that I play the piano, and this talent has landed me with some rather onerous tasks in the past. Just before Christmas, someone at our club decided that he would like to put on a Broadway-type musical production in May, and asked me if I would be good enough to play the songs.Β  I told him that I will be leaving to go back to South Africa at the end of February, so couldn’t help out. Not wanting to be thwarted, or deposed from his hobby horse, he then suggested we just do nine songs as a ‘showcase’ which could be ready to perform in the last week that I’m here. Auditions were held, and quite well attended. The enthusiastic singers are all in their 70’s to late 80’s, so you can imagine that the voices are somewhat past their best, but nevertheless it was decided that the show will go on. So, after having committed myself, I find that I have to not only find the music on the internet, legally down load it and learn it, but the guy whose idea the whole thing is, actually can’t read music at all, and wants me to do all the donkey work. I don’t want to disappoint these sweet people, who are so excited about the whole thing, so have hours and hours of practice sessions lined up, to try and get them ready for their paying audience on the 22nd February. Mr Organiser downloaded lyrics from various internet sites, in tiny print that you need a magnifying glass to read, and complete with all the strange ads that pop up when you visit these sites. He handed them out to everyone last night,Β  just before the first practice session, and when I came to play the songs, I found that what I had on my music, was not the same as what they were singing. What a nightmare! So now I have to sort that lot out too. Last night I kept waking up with my head full ofΒ  ‘Comedy Tonight’, ‘Magic to do’, and ‘Tradition’ from Fiddler on the Roof. I have 33 pages of music to learn before Monday, so I don’t think I’ll be around on the blogs very much, but will try to pop in if I have a free moment. Please wish me luck.


Now I think I know what Duke Orsino in Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’, was getting at when he said, “If music be the food of love, play on; give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, the soul may sicken and so die……………..Enough; no more; tis not so sweet now as it was before.”

101 comments on “‘Don’t Shoot the Piano Player’ for Ese’s Challenge

  1. I hope someone is going to video record this event. You are going to do GREAT!
    What do I say, Break a leg? Not sure. I know that your enormous efforts will be rewarded hundred times over when the singers voices blend to make angelic music.What a fabulous thing you are doing. Love reading about it. See you when you get time. That is a lot of music to learn. It sounds like it is going to be an indelible memory for all participating. Play on!

  2. Oh, Sylvia, fingers crossed for you! I am sure you will do really well, no doubts whatsoever. I use to learn playing the piano at music school ages ago and your post made me remember those days with a smile (though smile was hardly present back then, that’s for sure!).
    Wonderful interpretation of the theme. πŸ™‚

  3. Oh Sylvia, I do wish you all the very best with you music production, you are one brave lady to take all this on! Your hard-work and sacrifice will be greatly appreciated by all, what a blessing you are!

    I loved reading this post and your photos too. I do so admire you with your piano playing. It is something I’ve always wanted to do. I was determined that one of my three children learn to play so when my middle child, my younger son, was six years old we bought a second-hand upright (Thomas) piano and he had lessons for many years. I taught myself to play from his books (and re-learnt how to read music, I used to play the flute in the school orchestra once-upon-a-time!) and accomplished my goal of learning to play Moonlight Sonata and The Sting.
    I still have my piano, no way was I going to leave it behind in California, but very sadly I have long forgotten how to play as I didn’t stick with it, to my shame. Still, you never know…

    Hope it all goes well, thinking of you πŸ™‚

    • Thanks so much, Sherri. The practising is going well, but I think there’s a lot of hard work ahead. It sounds as though you are very musical, and I’m sure that if you took it up again, it would all come back to you. I had many years when i didn’t play, but when I decided to send my daughter for lessons, and bought a piano, I got really interested again, and have loved it ever since. πŸ™‚

      • I’m very encouraged by what you say Sylvia, and I do hold the hope alive in my heart that one day I shall play the piano again! You’ve inspired me! πŸ™‚

  4. What a very generous undertaking Sylvia , you will be well rewarded by the response you will have of that I am positive ! If anyone can get on and do it I’m sure you are the one πŸ˜‰
    Very best of luck with it all xx
    PS …. am sure there will be a you tube clip in a future post … we really must be party to it all πŸ™‚

  5. Well, you’re very brave, AD! Your organiser may have bit off too much for you to chew, but you seem super-efficient I must say. Wishing you and the whole cast the best of luck…

  6. What a delightful idea. The old folks are going to love it. And you’ll be famous for sure! Among the old folks anyway. Sorry you have to do all of the work, but that’s how it goes when you agree to help with this sort of production. The organizers don’t organize! I love the photo of you playing in the mall. or wherever that is. Be sure to take some photos of this production! πŸ™‚ And don’t “break a leg”! Good luck!

  7. Oh my, what have you gotten yourself into now? πŸ˜‰ I think it’s very sweet that you agreed to help them out, a big hug for that!
    I do wish you lots of fun in your new musical career, take it easy and take care. And always remember: keep breathing πŸ˜€

  8. This is HILARIOUS! You had me roll on the floor laughing out loud! πŸ˜† Good luck! You gonna need it.
    There’s a song in Italy that my friend always sing. It’s a parody song. It goes “Don’t shoot at me. Don’t shoot at me. I make the pizza. Don’t shoot at me.” That one had me laughing too.

  9. A couple of piano jokes for you Sylvia πŸ˜€
    β€œHaven’t I seen your face before?” a judge demanded, looking down at the defendant.
    β€œYou have, Your Honor,” the man answered hopefully. β€œI gave your son piano lessons last winter.”
    β€œAh, yes,” recalled the judge. β€œTwenty years!”
    Piano Tuner: I’ve come to tune the piano.
    Music Teacher: But we didn’t send for you.
    Piano Tuner: No, but the people who live across the street did.!!

  10. Please don’t shoot the piano player, but you can shoot the organizer. Oh, you are a saint with a capital S. The show must go on and those dear seniors will love you for it. πŸ™‚

  11. well isn’t that typical of a man!!! Shame AD, hope your fingers are up to all that playing. sounds fun though, will look forward to hearing about it, and some photos too πŸ™‚

    • You’re probably right about that, Ruth. Fortunately hubby isn’t of the same ilk and has been amazing at helping me to sort out the correct lyrics. The organiser got a real fright when I sent him an email telling him what needed to be done, and replied that it was beyond his technical capabilities. Ha!!

  12. la musica una delle gioie piΓΉ belle della vita e fa fiorire nell’animo i pensieri piΓΉ belli! Γ¨ con piacere che ti ritrovo e ti saluto augurandoti ogni bene a te e ai tuoi cari per il nuovo anno! Ven

    the music one of the joys of life and is flourishing in the soul most beautiful thoughts! It is with pleasure that I find myself and I salute you augurandoti all the best to you and your loved ones for the new year

  13. What you are doing reminds me of this quote:
    β€œSometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being.” Albert Schweitzer

  14. That does sound like a nightmare! Impossible task for most people, but you are extraordinary. I will miss your beautiful posts, but will be waiting when you get back! πŸ™‚ Take care. You have such a great attitude. I am again in awe! πŸ™‚ M

    • Oh, Marsha, you have no idea how much I liked being called “extraordinary.” πŸ™‚
      I’m feeling more relaxed about the whole thing now, so will be a round on the blogs a bit, when I’m not practising. Don’t want to wear my fingers out on the piano. The computer might as well have its fair share. πŸ˜€

      • I told Vince all you are doing, and the things you have shared about your family, and he agreed that your whole family seems pretty amazing. I’m out of breath just thinking about what you are going to be attempting. I’ll be sitting here in CA sending you encouraging wishes and prayers. πŸ™‚ My mom was a pianist. I thought I could get it by osmosis. It didn’t work. When I tried to play for church, I thoroughly embarrassed myself. πŸ™‚ I only had three or four songs to practice a week. A very sad experience, and Vince was too embarrassed to go to church with me. πŸ™‚

    • Oh my goodness! Well at least you tried not to hide your musical lamp under a bushel, Marsha. πŸ™‚ I hope I don’t embarrass my hubby, who is so proud of my musical abilities. Actually, he doesn’t play any instrument other than the electric saw, and is tone deaf, so what does he know? 😯

  15. Oh, what a bind you are in. On your behalf, I feel kinda irritated at the person who put you in this bind. It would have been nice if he was honest about his abilities at the outset. I wish you well and everybody well. Somehow, I am certain that you will pull this through and everybody will have a lovely time. πŸ™‚

  16. Wishing you absolutely loads and loads of good luck! My hubby used to volunteer me for lots of things that tended to turn into nightmares. I have to admit that I don’t much miss that part of him! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks so much, dear Gunta. Yes, I know exactly what you mean about your hubby volunteering youo for things. Chris has also been known to brag about my abilities, which has got me into a few scrapes and stressed me out no end. 😯

  17. You are such a dear sweet lady!. Your time, talent and efforts will be richly blessed, I’m sure. Would love to see the senior’s faces and hear their voices on the night of their performance. Hang in there, I am sure they appreciate all you do. It is said “you’re gift will make room for you.”


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