In an April post, I told you about Shirley, a listener who calls me “piano lady.” It is not a term of endearment. She doesn’t care for the music I play, and she doesn’t mind telling me so. Her first words to me were “Shut up,” and things have gone downhill from there.
The second time I visited her assisted living center, I requested that Shirley be seated for lunch at a table far from the piano, because I found her comments distracting (and demoralizing, I have to admit). The staff complied. The third visit, Shirley objected to the new seating arrangement; she insisted on returning to her regular table, right next to me. I braced myself.
“Knock it off” was Shirley’s first demand. I didn’t, so she tried again. “That’s enough of that lousy music.”
I continued playing, only to hear a few minutes later: “Why don’t you learn something modern? Like jazz.” That one surprised me.
Then, “Hey, piano lady, how long are you gonna play?” I told her until 1 o’clock. “Oh my God, we have to listen to you for a whole hour?”
I don’t know why Shirley harasses me. Maybe it’s her way of getting attention. After all, people say that negative attention is better than no attention. However, they’re usually referring to children when they say it.
Shirley is an extreme example, though I’ve had a few other similar types among my listeners. But for each disgruntled one, there are dozens of others who enjoy the music. They sing, they dance. They go out of their way to stop by the piano with a compliment, like this one from yesterday:
“You have no idea how much sunshine you brought into this room with your music. We were all dancing in our hearts.”
For a volunteer pianist, it doesn’t get better than that.
Copyright © 2015 by Paulette Bochnig Sharkey
All rights reserved.