“Playing for Cash”


When we moved into the new house when I was 8, a large mahogany upright piano came with it and I played throughout my childhood. Always in search of ways to make money, I asked my father whether there were any pieces he would pay me to learn. I was reminded of this recently when a child I know asked me if I would pay him a dollar if he stood on his hands.

My father, more obliging than I was to that child, said yes. He would pay me 25 cents to learn The Battle Hymn of the Republic and 50 cents to learn La Marseillaise. His mother and grandparents were French, so perhaps he remembered that tune from his childhood. I loved playing The Battle Hymn and memorized it easily. I struggled with the French tune, and I was never able to do anything more than play it with the music in front of me.

Curious to see what 25 cents in 1958 would be equal to today, I found a nifty calculator on line which told me that it would equal $2.13 today. So the handstand was reasonably priced, since it was at least as hard to learn as the song on the piano.

I can still impress people by sitting down at any piano and pounding out The Battle Hymn of the Republic. And I will accept the next money making idea that a child presents to me. Turnabout’s fair play, after all.

10 thoughts on ““Playing for Cash”

  1. I have also “bribed” my boys to learn their music pieces with cash, Elizabeth. Gregory also gets a pay out when he passes his examinations. He has recently passed Grade 5 theory of music. Music is such a wonderful thing. I gave a busker GBP2 yesterday. I love to support people trying to do something.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My friends and I rode our bikes around in the sixties/seventies picking up soda bottles to return for five or ten cents. That was good money. Recycling bottles must have been the beginning of modern recycling. I don’t know. Just a guess. Also, my friend and I got a penny a fly for killing flies in her beach cottage.

    Liked by 1 person

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