excerpt from 'The memoirs of Alice Maud Chase' pp. 51-52 (322 words)

excerpt from 'The memoirs of Alice Maud Chase' pp. 51-52 (322 words)

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The memoirs of Alice Maud Chase

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How came we, who were so poor, to have a piano? […] My grandfather Gamblin of Nelson Square […] died in February, 1887, when [my sister] Ruby was going on to be eight in the April. He had always been very anxious about her on account of her bad eyes. Perhaps he thought she might go permanently blind one day. At any rate, he left my mother his £30 insurance money with the solemn injunction to spend it on something for "that child". [...]  [Ruby] was crazy on music and talked all the time of Nelly German and Annie Mighell (pronounced ‘Mile’) who were learning to play the piano. Mama said to her, “Would you like a piano?” Can a duck swim? Of course she would! So the £30 went down on a 36-guinea piano and the remainder was paid off in a year. That piano was in our house in Jubilee Year 1887, because I know our beautiful Uncle Ike, of profane memory, came to see us as soon as he arrived in England from Toronto, and he sat down at the piano and played from memory “The Fairyland Waltz”, and did it very well too. Now I wonder how, when and where he learned to do that? 


Ruby started lessons at once and because she had learned early to be independent of her eyes and to look with her hands, she very rarely used the written music. She learned the music with her hands and memorised everything. She didn’t buy many pieces, but when she heard a school friend playing a piece that she liked, she would borrow it for a few days and learn it by heart, and hand, and return it. We always had little cheap songbooks and, of course, Sankey’s Hymns and Books of Carols, and my happiest hours were spent standing by the piano and lifting up my voice in song.

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excerpt from 'The memoirs of Alice Maud Chase' pp. 51-52 (322 words)


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