Mom’s Memories P. 18 AKA Playing the Piano
I thought it was time to shine the spotlight on my mom again. So I went to her little handy dandy memory book that she kept in her later years. I decided on the topic of playing the piano because I always think of my mom as a piano player. I also somewhat recently edited a photo of her playing the piano. At least I think she is playing the piano in the photo. Either way, it’s a photo that I like of her that is ready for sharing.
As you can see here on page 18 of Mom’s Memories, she first began taking lessons from a Mrs. Leech in Jennings when she was in the 3rd or 4th grade. That would be around 1942. She says that that is when she learned hand positions and fingering. She said that later she took from Henry Gillet in Welsh. She learned to play Beethoven’s 5th Symphony and she was one of the top three in the class. I remember her talking about her piano playing. She said that her instructors encouraged her to continue with her playing and to take it seriously because she could really put her feelings into a piece of music, which many people can’t do.
My mom continued playing piano and when she went to school at McNeese College, she majored in music. I don’t know if she took piano classes or not. I always assumed that she was more interested in her baritone playing. But mainly she got more seriously involved with fellow baritone player Bob Landry. She left college and pursued a family instead. She continued to play the piano when we were kids. We thoroughly enjoyed when she played and sang “Boop Boop Did’m Dad’m.” I wish I had a recording of her performing that song. It was such a playful rendition. I’m pretty sure my siblings and probably some of my nieces and nephews have started humming that song as they read about it! It’s a catchy little tune!
She was also the piano player for our family band during the 70s and 80s. Our most notable gig was playing as the Landry Family Band at Shakey’s Pizza Parlor in Lake Charles from 1976 to 1981. She mainly played chord piano as accompaniment for whoever was singing the song. I think she picked that up from her mother (Myrtle Phencie Bucklin) and maternal grandmother (Daisy Keys Phenice). They would do the same thing for family get togethers in the more distant past.
My mom continued to play the piano for the rest of her life. She would play almost every day. Evidently she got great enjoyment from music. It was a concern when my parents needed more care and went into Assisted Living. We were happy to know there was a piano at Brookdale Assisted Living and it was part of the reason they went there. This photo is a picture of them singing and playing the piano on their first day there. As you can see, it looks like everyone is having a jolly time.
So there it is. A glimpse into the life of Betty Lou and her piano-playing fingers. I hope you enjoyed it. I did.