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Bartering to make music!

July 28, 2010

Have you ever bartered for anything? Maybe babysat for a friend for return favors? Baked or sewed or reupholstered for maybe, free lessons for your kid or maybe you sewed for someone to reupholster for you? Anyway, I love, love the entire concept of bartering. Trading one service for another and no cash ever passes through hands.

So I was thinking the past few days – I want to take piano lessons. It’s not even the money that’s the issue. I’m more afraid of asking someone around here to teach me, only to find out they’re rigid or don’t have a sense of humor (your piano teacher has to laugh at your mistakes with you!), or some such thing that will have me in a pickle, not able to unhire them. About 45 years ago my mother used our family’s tax refund and bought me an old upright piano. There was no money left for lessons from Mrs. Wiggins, the neighborhood piano teacher. Somehow we struck a deal, one I suspect was made out of the goodness of Mrs. Wiggins’ heart. I would clean her house once a week, and my payment would be a piano lesson. I still remember the lemony smell of the polish I used on her coffee table. If I wanted to, I could conjure up memories of my first piano recital but we don’t really want to go there. I guess that was my first experience with bartering. For piano lessons my family could not afford. I learned the beginnings of playing a piano and how to clean a house too.

I began to think – ‘what the heck, my own daughter plays the piano and taught all through high school. Maybe I can hire her.’ I was quite happy to pay her if she’d just agree to teach me. So I phoned, and asked and she said yes and no. Yes, she’d teach me and no way would she let me pay her. I argued for a bit, then I remembered that I paid for her lessons about twenty years ago, so I agreed. We live about 100 miles apart – a two hour drive if Dallas traffic is kind, so I suggested we get together about every three weeks and, by the way, could I spend the night after my lesson?

She told me that would be absolutely fine, and we came up with a great bartering system. I’ll drive in for a lesson, we’ll spend a day together, then the next day she can go away to shop or whatever while I play with my grandkids. Bartering for piano lessons, again.

Then we started talking about painting one side of her house. I love to paint and have a lot of painting experience under my belt. So I told her I’d be quite happy to paint the side of her house for her. And we laughed and figured out that my painting for her would buy me a good number of piano lessons. Works for both of us. At this rate I should be great in no time! I’ve told her I’m quite happy to weed her garden too if it’ll buy me a few more lessons.

I told her my goal – ‘to play mediocre for my own pleasure’. She told me she was confident she could teach me to play mediocre, then would be happy to send me on my way to a ‘real piano teacher’. I don’t think so – I think this is going to work beautifully for both of us. After all, she’s not rigid, she has a great sense of humor and will likely be quite happy to laugh at and with me, and being her mom, it’s not likely I’ll want to unhire her. And it’s doubtful there’s another piano teacher out there who’ll jump at the chance to give me a bed to sleep in and have coffee waiting for me in the morning.

Bartering – a fantastic idea and music to my ears, literally.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. July 29, 2010 1:08 am

    Great idea!!!
    We bartered for music lessons too! My hubby painted the piano teacher’s house a long time ago for keyboard and drum lessons for our boys and years later they are still playing and they are both on the praise and worship team at church! Yay!

  2. July 29, 2010 8:47 am

    I think this is the perfect set up. It’s a win-win for everyone. Even the grandkids 🙂

  3. July 29, 2010 8:50 am

    Sounds like a great deal! The best part of it is that she won’t know if you’re not practicing…trust me!!! 😉

    • July 29, 2010 10:47 am

      Oh Leslie, this so made me giggle. I was thinking of you, and your experiences with lessons from an older sister (what was I thinking?) and that hysterical recital you did after your lessons. I’ve made it conditional – NO recitals. EVER.

  4. July 29, 2010 8:58 am

    I still think I’ll be getting the better end of the deal on this one!

    And if you ever have a piano teacher you’re not related to who wants you to spend the night, run fast!

    • July 29, 2010 10:48 am

      True that! And I’m sure these are going to be the most fun lessons I’ve ever had. The last teacher I had, we spent much of the time with her telling me how awful her son was. (He was.) I should have gotten free lessons then for the therapy that went on, not that I have any idea why I could relate to her having a difficult child…

  5. July 29, 2010 10:14 am

    Sarah’s comment cracked me right up! LOL!

    I love the barter system. I’d give you lessons if you’d come paint. I’ll even give you a bed to sleep in and have coffee ready and waiting for you. It’s just a touch more of a drive though and I guess it would help if I knew how to play myself. :v)

    • July 29, 2010 10:51 am

      Oh Susanne, today’s comments are food for my soul – laughter! Surely you know how to do something I don’t…. like how to corral a houseful of kids and not lose your mind? Not that I really want to learn that. But I’m horrible at math, can’t whistle, hoolahoop, dance, wiggle my nose to raise my eyebrows, and have no sense of direction whatsoever. I’m pretty darned good at budgeting, painting, baking, cooking, sewing, quilting. Knitting – the jury is still out. That sweater started 8 times (who’s counting?) taunts me…

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