Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Plink, Plank, Plunk

Yesterday, the piano tuner came to work on our piano. My 2-year-old son was in heaven. Not only did he get to watch the tuner take the whole piano apart and pull out its guts, but the tuner let him plink on the keys and watch the hammers move while said guts were pulled out. He loves to peek into the shadowy interior of the piano (or, as he inexplicably calls it, the “compiano”) to catch glimpses of the hammers bouncing up and down as he pounds on the keys, so seeing them out in the open doing their work was extra-exciting.

Once the tuner got down to the serious business of tuning, my son and I went outside to play in the sandbox so his (ok, OUR) childish squeals wouldn’t interfere with the tuning process. But I could still hear the repeated plink-, plank-, plunking of one key at a time as the tuner’s sensitive equipment (and sensitive ear) determined what adjustments needed to be made.

I have a pretty good ear myself, but I was amazed and impressed at the minuteness of the adjustments. Three wires for each note, each wire with its own distinct overtones, combining to make what the ear hears as a single note – single, yet rich and full. And each wire must be perfectly synchronized with the others in order to reinforce and enhance the sound, producing the beautiful tones of the piano.

It’s a lot like the way a family works. We’re a single unit made of multiple parts, each part having its own identity. Yet we have to work together, and if any one component is a bit off, we’re discordant and out of sync. We need to listen to each other to be sure we’re in tune, and make adjustments when we’re not.

And when we’re all in accord, what beautiful music we can make. Plink, plank, plunk!

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