How do you stay sane in a pandemic? It’s a question that came up for many of us last year when COVID-19 robbed us of the ability to do many of the things we love. A shortage in active yeast supply had many turning to baking delicious sourdough bread. Some people went to work designing and sewing face masks to help front-line workers. And others struggled to maintain at-home exercise routines when the gyms started closing. Personally, I turned to shopping.

But even shopping has been turned upside down because of the pandemic. One positive result is the emerging focus on supporting smaller local businesses as they’re the most at risk of going bankrupt and shutting down in these crazy times. Like many, I had to re-evaluate my stance on shopping through Amazon. Yes, you can get next-day delivery and find almost anything you need in one or two clicks. But when you realize you’re lining the pockets of billionaires who are profiting from this traumatic experience we’re all living through, you might decide, like I did, to re-evaluate your shopping choices. That’s why I turned to GiveShop.

Shopping Shopping Everywhere

There are all sorts of cool items on the GiveShop marketplace, and all the proceeds go to local charities, so I immediately felt better about my shopping choices. And since they have a curbside pickup policy to weather the pandemic, I felt safe knowing I could support local. But what to buy?

After a day or two of hemming and hawing over potential items, I chose to purchase something that, in retrospect, was a perfect fit for me. I bought a piano! More specifically, I bought a 1923 Wurlitzer spinet piano with proceeds going to the CHEO Foundation.

I played piano for many years when I was young, but I eventually gave it up because my weekly lessons interfered with watching Saturday morning cartoons. Once I passed my grade one conservatory test, I was out! In my teens I picked up the guitar and eventually the ukulele, and I started performing in musicals to scratch my itch for music. But I always dreamt of getting back into piano. Now here I am, forty one years old, and I see this majestic beauty on GiveShop. My heart immediately took charge, and I bought myself a big ol’ piano for $75 (and convinced a REALLY good friend to help me pick it up).

Back to Basics

When I got it home, I started doing research online to learn more about the history of my piano. I realized it was in desperate need of tuning, so I tracked down a great tutorial video on YouTube. Then I realized that my new piano, like most older pianos, needed a slew of tiny repairs. I’m not very technically or mechanically inclined, but I decided to crack open my piano to see what I could see. What I saw was thousands of tiny piano parts, all intricately connected, and beyond my understanding. So back to YouTube where I found all sorts of tutorials on how to troubleshoot, fix, and regulate a piano. Without realizing, I was taking my first steps down a months-long road of a pandemic project that would change my life.

I started taking the piano apart, removing the action (that long grouping of components that has all the hammers and pulleys and such) and setting up shop on my dining room table. Thankfully, my wife was VERY understanding. I ordered a few tools from a reputable piano store, catalogued all the troubles I could identify, and set about fixing it up. Mostly I just needed to re-pin a lot of joints where the bushing had swelled over time, but I also ended up replacing the hammer rail felt and some springs. The most satisfying part of that stage was removing the keys and vacuuming the dust from the entire interior of the piano. I thought I hit the jackpot when I found an old penny that had fallen through the cracks, but it was just from 1989.

Here Goes Nothing…

Just a few weeks ago came the moment of truth. I had fixed everything I could see, and I had to put the action back in. To my surprise and delight, when I got it all back together I had a fully functioning piano! I admit there were some new clicking noises when I pressed some of the keys, but they were minor enough (and I was so eager to play) that I just kept moving forward. Finally, it was time to tune it. A professional could tune a piano in about an hour or so. My piano was extremely out of tune, and because I was a beginner it took me almost four hours. But in the end, I had a fully functioning piano that brought me right back to my childhood. Somehow, like riding a bike, I remembered some scales and a couple of songs from forever ago, and I found some great online lessons to get me up and running. Now I practice every day, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have piano back in my life.

If you’re struggling to find a way to keep active and inspired during this pandemic, I highly recommend you check out GiveShop’s marketplace. For just $75, I was able to reconnect with a hobby that will keep me happy long after the pandemic has finally ended.