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Musical Horror Stories (in honor of Halloween)

Oct 31, 2019

Soooooo…. Halloween. My least favorite holiday ever. (Sorry Halloween-lovers… to each his/her own.) It’s a good time for scary stories though. The musical kind.

Whooooooo…. spooky.

You know… the time your piano books fell off the rack for no good reason right in the middle of a performance?

Or the time you answered an ad for an old grand piano and found that someone had spray-painted it black…even the keys?

I’m sure you have some of your own. (Feel free to play “Top That Horror Story” in the comments below.)

Here’s one that happened to me:

It was graduation time at BYU. I was working in an office right around the corner from then-President Jeffrey R. Holland. At about 4:45, President Holland came down the hall shouting, “Does anybody here play the piano?”

I said, “I do… kinda…” (It’s not my forte… forgive the pun.)

He said, “Be at my house at 6 p.m. sharp.”

It seems that the notable commencement guests were gathering for a reception in his home, and the background pianist for the evening had called off sick.

I had just enough time to rush home, change clothes, and show up empty-handed on his doorstep. The President’s lovely wife answered the door, and kindly presented me with a few books I could play from.

Horror #1. Patricia Holland studied at Juilliard. The books she handed me were full of things I couldn’t touch. Unless you needed accidental Halloween music.

Juilliard wouldn’t have given me a second look, but I *could* improvise rather well. So I started playing. Have you ever tried to decide what to play next while you’re playing something else? Your brain becomes a vacuum and you just keep fussing with chords and melodies and…

…and you play the “Cougar Fight Song.” Yup. Oh, I improvised it into a lovely, sweet, ballad-y background-sounding mush, but it was still the “Cougar Fight Song.”


It totally did NOT sound like this.
This one is much cooler than what I played.

Ah well. Nobody but President Holland noticed. He caught my eye, raised his eyebrows, and went right back to his conversation without missing a beat.

I was well and truly horrified. Too bad it *wasn’t* Halloween.

Up next… this year’s Christmas Card Carol… in a few days. Finally!

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