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Metronome

14 Jun

Metronome

Glowing cherry-wood pyramid
silver wind-up key on the side
latched front cover
which came off exposing
thin pendulum with its movable weight
a Christmas gift from my parents
which said “We approve of your musical dreams”
They became brighter as its steady tick-tock
smoothed scales, arpeggios and broken chords
set just the right
Largo, Adagio, Andante tempo

I liked playing with it
Moving the weight to the bottom
made-it-go-very-fast
all the way to the top
v—e—r—y—s—l—o—w
taking it off
causedracingpalpitations
You could kill quite a few practice minutes
playing with a metronome

One day it no longer tocked
It was about the time I forsook
my piano dreams
But it was still beautiful
and its mute red presence on the piano
made me sad
I wondered if my parents
felt disappointment too

© 2012 by Violet Nesdoly

**************
It’s interesting how some objects carry a lot of weight. The metronome in the poem has been out of my life for years. A few weeks ago I saw one just like it on a friend’s piano and again I felt a pang.

This poem is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted this week by A Year of Reading

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27 Comments

Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Personal, Poetry Friday

 

27 responses to “Metronome

  1. Mary Lee

    June 14, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Violet, this makes me wonder where my metronome got to! I’d love to spend a few minutes playing around with the speed of time again!

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    • LInda Baie (@LBaie)

      June 14, 2012 at 10:40 pm

      Maybe the most interesting memories are those of regret. Lovely line in “One day it no longer tocked.” I never had a metronome, but my brother did, and we raced to it, then walked slowly. Your lines of playing brought it all back. Thanks.

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      • vnesdoly

        June 15, 2012 at 9:02 am

        So true, Linda. We have (I have) a hard time of letting go of regrets.

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    • vnesdoly

      June 15, 2012 at 9:01 am

      Mary Lee, I love that.. “playing around with the speed of time.”

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  2. Renee LaTulippe

    June 15, 2012 at 12:12 am

    What a lovely memory, and that final stanza captures your “looking back” so beautifully. There is something so soothing in a metronome…I may get one just to listen to it.

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    • vnesdoly

      June 15, 2012 at 9:18 am

      Thanks, Renee! You could get a metronome to listen to yourself, or get your kids into music, and watch them enjoy it. 🙂

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  3. Tabatha

    June 15, 2012 at 3:31 am

    Great rhythm in your poem, Violet. Maybe it’s time for you to tinkle the ivories again?

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    • Katya

      June 15, 2012 at 5:32 am

      I had a metronome just like that, too. I wonder what happened to it. I also used to waste practice time just listening to it and watching it. Thanks for bringing back all those memories, Violet.

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      • vnesdoly

        June 15, 2012 at 9:08 am

        You’re welcome, Katya. Maybe we were really dreaming up stories and poems while wasting our practice time.

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    • vnesdoly

      June 15, 2012 at 9:06 am

      Tabatha, Really? Well I think rhythm is engraved into a child’s psyche with early music. I believe some education methods (like Orff) are based on that. We put our son into a child-centered music program at four. Guess what his passion is today, at 26? Music, particularly drumming!

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  4. jama

    June 15, 2012 at 5:43 am

    I took piano lessons for 8 years but never had a metronome (always wanted one). Used to love listening to the one my piano teacher had. Quite hypnotic!

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    • vnesdoly

      June 15, 2012 at 9:10 am

      I was so thrilled with my metronome, Jama! It was like I had finally arrived at a certain stage of maturity musically. But the novelty wore off. Obviously.

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  5. Tara

    June 15, 2012 at 6:14 am

    “and its mute red presence on the piano
    made me sad”
    We have one sitting on our piano that makes me sad for all those no-longer-needed paino lessons. Thanks for sharing this!

    Like

     
    • vnesdoly

      June 15, 2012 at 9:11 am

      Yes, Tara. I can see how a silent metronome would be a reminder of the good old days. Maybe little hands and ears will soon use it again? (Do they even use metronomes in music practice any more?)

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  6. Doraine Bennett

    June 15, 2012 at 6:33 am

    I never had a metronome either, but I still feel the sadness of those musical dreams set aside. Do you still play at all? I rarely do, but when I do sit down it brings pleasure even if it’s not pleasant!

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    • vnesdoly

      June 15, 2012 at 9:14 am

      Doraine, I do play, but only a little. We have the upright Heintzman that I took lessons on in the basement. In fact we had it tuned a few weeks ago. It still has its bright tone and keeps its tuning remarkably well. After the tuneup I hauled out some old music books and tried to play my old pieces. I’m so rusty, it’s discouraging!! But sometimes I like to go down, and play and sing along to the old hymns–something I cut my musical teeth on.

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      • Doraine Bennett

        June 16, 2012 at 10:26 am

        Yep. That’s where I cut mine, too. I have one favorite that I always return to, and can still play reasonably well, “And Can It Be that I Should Gain.” Love that one. My dearest friend is a pianist. She says playing keeps your mind alert and active, since you have to use both sides of the brain.

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  7. Donna Smith

    June 15, 2012 at 8:20 am

    You should get yourself a metronome and a keyboard (though they have a built-in metronome) and play until you make peace… with the realization that you were right to put the metronome to rest, or that you were right to awaken your inner musician again!

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    • vnesdoly

      June 15, 2012 at 9:15 am

      Now there’s something I hadn’t thought of, Donna! In fact, a metronome might get me motivated to do scales and arpeggios and Bach? Do you think?

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  8. haitiruth

    June 15, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    I love how objects can hold emotion like that. Thanks for this!

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    • vnesdoly

      June 16, 2012 at 10:37 pm

      So true, Ruth. I think that’s why I like working with poem prompts (how this poem began) … because when I dig a little, even into an idea that doesn’t at first appear promising, I often find some response–and it’s usually surprising.

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  9. Andromeda Jazmon

    June 16, 2012 at 4:44 am

    I spent a lot of practice time playing with the metronome too. Such a fascinating instrument! Thanks for sharing this poem!

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    • vnesdoly

      June 16, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      You too, Andromeda? This poem is bringing a lot of closet piano practice time-wasters out of the closet. 🙂

      Like

       
  10. Robyn Hood Black

    June 16, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Violet, this took me straight back to my childhood, too! I remember being mesmerized by that even, steady beat. Your description transported many of us, it seems. Thanks for sharing a beautiful poem and memory.

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    • vnesdoly

      June 16, 2012 at 10:35 pm

      Thanks, Robyn! Amazing isn’t it, how many of us have that shared experience. (Maybe there’s a pattern here… lapsed musicians make wanna-be [and some very successful] poets?)

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  11. laurasalas

    June 17, 2012 at 6:05 am

    This is wonderful, Violet. The metronome was my favorite part of piano practice:>) I’ve used one off and on for musical things (even though I am not musically talented) as an adult, too. It is just kind of a magical totem, isn’t it? Love the way you played with spacing and speed in your poem.

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    • vnesdoly

      June 17, 2012 at 7:33 am

      Thank you, Laura! What a wonderful descriptor: “totem”! It even looks like one. As for it being someone’s favorite part of practice–I can only think that you were much better musically than you give yourself credit for.

      Like

       

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