“Here We Go, Up A Row” - theHumm February 2019

“Here We Go, Up A Row” - theHumm February 2019

By Glenda Jones

When I was six I took piano lessons from a stern no-nonsense teacher. She wore her hair in a bun, and sat in a straight-back chair next to the piano in reach of my little hands that quivered over the keys. I willed them to hit the right notes: CDE, CDE, DCDE, CC. “Here we go, up a row, to a birthday party”. She was indeed “Teaching Little Fingers to Play”, which was the compendium we used, but I was scared to death of her and her ruler. “NO” became an operative word, no matter how I concentrated on making her happy.

I learned scales, chords, and these little pieces, the lyrics of which stick in my head to this day. But it was hard. It was hard to practice; it was hard to make two hands play different things at the same time. My mother gritted her teeth and sat with me as I tortured out simple songs, telling me I was improving. She probably crossed her fingers as she said that.

When my sister took up the piano a few years later, she was a natural — confident, clever, and, I might add, someone who could stand up to the teacher if she had to make a point. She went on to play in recitals (something I never mastered), and festivals (the very bane of my existence). In later years, she took up the guitar, the flute, and the organ.

I left my piano days behind, but the memory of music literacy stuck in my head, a blessing when I joined choirs. The ability to read music is like riding a bike, I guess.

A while back, I toyed with the idea of taking up the piano again, not that we even have one. However, a serendipitous conversation led to the loan of a keyboard, just the right size, and a pile of easy piano lessons. The first page I opened looked simple enough: two hands, no chords, the basic key of C. What a joke! Not only would my fingers not play the proper notes, but also I couldn’t make my two hands work together properly. I couldn’t even read the two lines at the same time. I was back on that piano stool, feeling like a six-year old again.

I had to return to the beginning, one hand at a time, five-finger exercises, over and over. For a couple of days, all I did were scales, up and down, white keys, black keys, left hand, right hand, and then wonder of wonders: both hands together! I didn’t allow myself to make a mistake, but instead repeated the exercises until I’m sure Alan figured that would be my entire repertoire forever. I didn’t scream when I got it wrong, I didn’t start crying when I’d been sitting there twenty minutes, I didn’t slam the book shut and yell it was all stupid! (Am I a grown up now?)

I have dutifully practiced every day for at least thirty minutes, reminding myself a few times that you don’t learn to play the piano by watching Wheel of Fortune. I can now play the simple pieces, and am moving into Book Two where I’ll have to play two-hands, different rhythms, and chords. It’s going to be a big challenge, but I’m ready.

I’m even working on some theory lessons to discover why some notes sound better than others, how to find the right chords to accompany a tune, how to work out the formula for a scale. I must have lost my theory book when I was six because this has been a big mystery to me up to now. For the first time, I’ve solved the quandary of dominant fifths and sevenths, a real eye-opener that won’t ever come up on Jeopardy, I’m sure. And here’s something to think about: if you look at a lot of the Afro-American spirituals, you will find they can be played entirely on the black keys. That’s piano theory at work there.

This “old dog, new tricks’ thing is pretty satisfying, especially when I don’t have to answer to anyone. It’s also teaching me patience, something I could really use. Learning anything new takes time, and it doesn’t matter if the first attempts are less than perfect, as long as every attempt moves me a little farther to the right side of the equation. Hope springs eternal that the day will come when all the stars will align and all the attempts will pay off into something half-decent. My agility shirt says: “Sometimes we learn, sometimes we win, and when we learn to win, we’re going to rock!” It may happen, or it may not, but I’m having a good time trying.

Now I want to buy my own keyboard, not a fancy thing with a hundred tunes, drum beats, and all that — I’m not starting a rock band or anything — just something that sounds piano-ish and is in tune, and maybe with a few more than 61 keys, and I’d like Middle C to actually be in the middle. If I were to go that far, it would mean a real commitment, and I’ll work myself up to the Mozart Sonatina my sister used to belt out at a furious speed just to unnerve Mrs. Tweedale, may she rest in peace for putting up with this ninny of a six-year-old pupil.


And the Award Goes to… Don Wiles! - theHumm February 2019

By Sally Hansen

Art… and Soul

theHumm is celebrating this awards season by commending Almonte’s beloved and esteemed Don Wiles for his interest in his community and the contributions he continues to make that enrich its cultural and intellectual life.

Journalists should never miss a chance to invite a nonagenarian to share their most treasured piece of advice. Soon to be 94, Dr. Wiles was momentarily surprised at my invitation, and then counseled, “Be interested.” He is a persuasive example of the wis......


Knit with Love… - theHumm February 2019

By Sarah Byrne

Mrs. Wilma Winton has spent her life quietly sharing her significant talent with others. From the warmth of her home at the end of a winding cottage road on Rideau Lake, Wilma has knit hundreds of items, giving them to people young and old during times of celebration and times when they could use some extra comfort. Wilma’s generosity is inspiring, and so too is the skill with which she knits. The intricately detailed, often personalized blankets she creates are obvious examples of her skill and......


The Mississippi Mudds Youth Theatre Presents
The Lion King Jr.
- theHumm February 2019

Once again, the Mississippi Mudds Youth Theatre group is in the final stages of rehearsals for another wonderful show — this time its production of The Lion King Junior. With seven shows scheduled at the Town Hall in Carleton Place (from February 22 through to March 3), this delightful story brings the African savannah to life on stage.

Join this unforgettable young cast of characters while the plot builds as they journey from Pride Rock to the jungle and back agai......


Alone Together Again — A Crowded Empty Nest! - theHumm February 2019

By Dana Ruprecht

A very wise and witty play is coming to Studio Theatre Perth this month.

Alone Again Together, by playwright Lawrence Roman, is the honest and funny story of an empty-nester couple whose nest refuses to stay empty, leaving them in a chronic state of parenthood.

Helena and George Butler’s adult sons have finally moved out, and husband and wife are both looking forward to the next phase of their lives together. Anticipating leisure and privacy, Helena has set new professional goals for h......


Out of Order at the Station Theatre
Keeping You Warm on a Cold Winter’s Night
- theHumm February 2019

If you aren’t a winter person, February can be the dreariest of months. The snow, cold and bitter wind seems to be have been here forever, feeling like it will never be done. You need a pick-me-up! A time to forget about it all and just submerse yourself in a whole lot of nonsense for an evening or afternoon. That’s where the Station Theatre comes in. Their traditional British farce — Out of Order — by the master of farce, Ray Cooney, is sure to brighten any February drearies!

Director Lynda ......


Fifty Flippin’ Years
Fulton’s Pancake House Celebrates the Big 5-0!
- theHumm February 2019

Fulton’s Pancake House & Sugar Bush is very excited to be celebrating Fifty Flippin’ Years in the Pancake House! The family has been in maple syrup production for more than 150 years. Fourth- and fifth-generation owners are busy at the helm and sixth-generation grandchildren are making a contribution to production, customer service and quality control. Fulton’s is open for ten weeks from Family Day weekend through Easter weekend.

Fulton’s invites current and forme......


Fall in Love with Local Art! - theHumm February 2019

By Miss Cellaneous

FIGURE in Almonte

From February 8 to March 24, Almonte’s Sivarulrasa Gallery presents FIGURE, a trio show featuring figurative paintings, drawings and sculpt......


“Here We Go, Up A Row” - theHumm February 2019

By Glenda Jones

When I was six I took piano lessons from a stern no-nonsense teacher. She wore her hair in a bun, and sat in a straight-back chair next to the piano in reach of my little hands that quivered over......


Claire Hunter Returns with Something to Give - theHumm February 2019

Singer/songwriter Claire Hunter now lives in Toronto, but she grew up and went to school in Almonte, where she developed her musical skills playing at coffeehouses and appearing in such ADHS prod......


Paper Birch
aka Canoe Birch, White Birch, Betula papyrifera, Wiigwaas (Anishinaabe)
- theHumm February 2019

By Susie Osler

On New Year’s Day I went for a bush walk on the farm with some friends. Along the way I passed a mid-sized, dying birch that had a mushroom growing on its trunk. I had never noticed a mushroom li......


Libraries Love Babies
(And Babies Love Libraries!)
- theHumm February 2019

By Karen Schecter, Librarian

One of my favourite sounds to hear in the library is the laughing or babbling of babies enjoying Baby Time. Some people may wonder why you would take your baby to the public library. After all, t......


A Musical Interruption in the Winter Season
Kanata Choral Society’s Show
- theHumm February 2019

Although it has not been that long since we all either listened to or sang our hearts out to Christmas carols, it is already time for some more music!

For the past several years, during this ......


Eat LocalSupport a CSA!
- theHumm February 2019

Do the grey winter days have you dreaming about the greens of spring and summer? Why not ensure a steady supply of those greens (as well as lots of other delicious produce) by investing in a loca......


Putting the Outside Inside Kids - theHumm February 2019

Need a break from winter and everyday life? Then come on a canoe trip into Algonquin Park wilderness with Bill Kennedy and his five-year-old daughter Suzanne. Described as “a charming read” by au......


Almonte Resident Wins Library Award - theHumm February 2019

On February 2, Mary Lou Souter, Chair of the Mississippi Mills Public Library Board, will be in Toronto to accept the Ontario Library Association’s (OLA) President’s Award for Exceptional Ac......


Local Green Party of Canada Fundraiser - theHumm February 2019

Come out for a great Green brunch at the Maberly Hall on Sunday, February 17! For only $10 you’ll learn lots, eat some terrific food and have an opportunity to support the Green Party. Child......


Febeery — A Draft Article - theHumm February 2019

By Sebastian Weetabix

In the course of his perambulations around Humm territory, Weetabix has repeatedly encountered the phenomenon and products of “Craft Breweries”. Weetabix is not a serious beer drinker, but beer i......


Family, Films, Folk… and a Loppet! - theHumm February 2019

By John Pigeau

I feel like a kind, gentle way to begin this month’s column would be to remind all of you that Monday, February 18 is Family Day, a provincial statutory holiday. There. Now doesn’t that feel......


Family Day & MidWinter Milling - theHumm February 2019

By Miss Mills

February 18 is Family Day in Ontario, and there are many affordable (and free!) activities to enjoy close to home. In Almonte, Pakenham and area, you can enjoy free public skating, explore l......


A Tribute toDeputy Mayor John Levi - theHumm February 2019

By Christa Lowry, Mayor, Mississippi Mills

Deputy Mayor John Levi passed away on Sunday, January 13, in Florida with his beloved wife Helen by his side. So many of us were shocked and saddened by John’s untimely passing.

John has......


9th Annual Snow Angel Making Party - theHumm February 2019

By Susan Cressy

I am thrilled to say that we are celebrating the 9th Annual Snow Angel Making Party at Highlands Gate (4381 Wolf Grove Road, Lanark Highlands, Ontario) on Sunday February 17 from 1–4pm, and ......


Celebrating Black History Month in a Unique Way - theHumm February 2019

By Catherine WrightCadieux

Just over two years ago when Almonte-based photographer Monique Renaud left for Senegal to do some volunteer work with Women’s Global Engagement (FEM – Femmes engagement mondial), she had no idea......


February Evensong - theHumm February 2019

By Hilary Barrett

Everyone is invited to attend Evensong at St. James the Apostle Anglican Church in Perth on Sunday February 17 at 4pm. There will be a prelude at 3:45pm by guest organist Damien Macedo, who ......


Adaptive Snowsports Programs AreSeeking Volunteers! - theHumm February 2019

Mount Pakenham Adaptive Ski Program

Serving the west end of Ottawa and Lanark County, the Adaptive Ski Program at Mount Pakenham provides the opportunity for children,......


Seedy Saturdays (and Sundays) - theHumm February 2019

By David Hinks

Our relationship with plants is a complicated one.

On the one hand we are hugely concerned about the negative health effects of certain plants such as wild parsnip. Like giant hogweed and oth......


Stained Glass Show Highlights Art Nouveau - theHumm February 2019

Looking to bring extra light into your winter? The Elgin Art Gallery invites everyone to the show opening of Otty Lake stained glass artist Gregori Robinson on February 9 from 2–5pm.



Historical Society Presents Annual Heritage Dinner - theHumm February 2019

The Carleton Place and Beckwith Historical Society is getting ready to host their 7th annual fundraising Heritage Dinner. To kick off the Carleton Place 200th celebrations in style, they are pres......