Friday, June 15, 2007

Glimpses At the Classics - The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew

I remember as a young girl, eagerly devouring the Five Little Peppers Books. Margaret Sydney is the author of this delightful series. I only own one of the books, but will be keeping my eyes open at every garage sale and used book sale that I encounter. This is precious literature, my friends.

The five little peppers are five children:Ben, Polly, Joel, Davy and Phronsie, who live with their mother in "the little brown house." They are as poor as church mice, but rich in love.

In this particular book, The Five Little Peppers and How they Grew, Polly has been invited to stay for some time with the family of a close friend. She is loathe to go, but does so. Her mother, though it breaks her heart to have her dear daughter so far away, urges her to take this blessing of an opportunity.

We see here that Polly makes the most of it!

"And on the very first morrow came Polly's music teacher!

The big drawing-room, with its shaded light and draped furniture,with its thick soft carpet, on which no foot-fall could be heard,with all its beauty and loveliness on every side was nothing to Polly's eyes, only the room that contained the piano! That was all she saw! And when the teacher came he was simply the Fairy (an ugly little one, it is true, but still a most powerful being) who was to unlock its mysteries, and conduct her into Fairyland itself. He was a homely little Frenchman, with a long, curved nose, and an enormous black moustache, magnificently waxed, who bowed elaborately, and called her "Mademoiselle Fep-paire;" but he had music in his soul, and Polly couldn't reverence him too much.And now the big piano gave out new sounds; sounds that told of a strong purpose and steady patience. Every note was struck for mother and the home brood. Monsieur Tourtelotte, after watching her keenly out of his little black eyes, would nod to himself like a mandarin, and the nod would be followed by showers of extra politeness, as his appreciation of her patient energy and attention. Every chance she could get, Polly would steal away into the drawing-room from Jappy and the three boys and all the attractions they could offer, and laboriously work away over and over at the tedious scales and exercises that were to be stepping-stones to so much that was glorious beyond. Never had she sat still for so long a time in her active little life; and now, with her arms at just such an angle, with the stiff, chubby fingers kept under training and restraint--well, Polly realized, years after, that only her love of the little brown house could ever have kept her from flying up and spinning around in perfect despair ... And Polly kept at it steadily day after day; getting through with the lessons in the schoolroom as quickly as possible to rush to hermusic, until presently the little Frenchman waxed enthusiastic tothat degree that, as day after day progressed and swelled intoweeks, and each lesson came to an end, he would skip away on the tips of his toes, his nose in the air, and the waxed ends of his moustache, fairly trembling with delight,

"Ah, such patience as Mademoiselle Pep-paire has! I know no other such little Americane!"

"I think," said Jasper one evening after dinner, when all the children were assembled as usual in their favorite place on the big rug in front of the fire in the library, Prince in the middle of the group, his head on his paws, watching everything in infinite satisfaction, "that Polly's getting on in music as I never saw anyone do; and that's a fact."

I took piano lessons from first grade to eleventh grade, and I am sorry to say, did not make the most of my "blessing." I hated scales, and I hated practicing. I hated recitals, and I would shake in dread of them a week before I had to perform. I loved to play, especially the songs that allowed me to lose myself in their melodies. I wanted to snap my fingers and suddenly be able to give a dramatic rendition of The Pathetique. How little I realized that practice, practice, practice, was the key that would unlock this ability. I lacked the diligence that it would have taken to really excel.

I love music, and so appreciate those who have taken the time to practice, practice, practice, like our Polly did. We are blessed by all of you. I salute you!


Beka said...

Great book... I had forgotten about that series. I enjoyed reading this passage that you shared today.
Ahh, scales. I remember those dreaded Hanon exercises...

Stacy said...

I've not read this, but I'm checking it out at our library! :)
Thank you for doing this series on the classics!
Love to you-

Maxine said...

Well, I'm glad you finally realize it. Practice makes perfect. Even Rubenstein had to practice.
I'm happy, though, that at least you learned to play hymns.

Joel and Jaime said...

This post was close to my heart, having been a piano major in college myself. I had a teacher at one point that inspired me much like the teacher in this story. And oh, I remember the endless hours of scales, exercises, practicing....but I'd definitely say now that it was worth the effort :) Do you still play? I still really enjoy it, whenever I can fit in time around my children :)


Very good book. I too, always wanted to play the piano. I never had the chance but I made sure my four sons and my daughter could play a musical instruments. So I am always enjoying music when they as well as my grandchildren come for a visit. It is wonderfull. connie from Texas

Elise said...

I have never read these books - but I'm thinking I would love to read them aloud to my children!

We plan to start piano lessons next year on the piano my Grandfather gave us, so Polly's example would be quite helpful! ;)