November 20, 2007
Lee Co.-- Grandparents and their grandchildren often have a special bond that can last an eternity, and one of their gifts can bring joy for a lifetime.
In a new residential subdivision in western Lee County, the sounds of old, classic songs waft through the air.
"I learned to play at age 11," says Susan K. Hardee, the artistic piano player responsible for almost daily concerts.
Some people who know her well might think her extraordinary talent involves a genetic link to her late grandmother.
"Yes, I believe so," says Susan.
Her grandmother, the late Ruth Hulse Nelson, paid for all of Susan's lessons and helped her buy her first piano.
"She was an accomplished pianist," says Susan.
A pianist of note who played at the Mayfair Lenox Hotel in St. Louis for many years, as well as the staff pianist for one of the city's famous radio stations, KMOX.
"She was just phenomenal," says Susan.
A musical gift obviously passed on to her granddaughter.
Time doesn't matter to Susan when she plays. No clock sits in the piano room.
"I'm known to sit here three to four hours a day. It goes by in a hurry. I get lost in my music," says Susan.
But she is never lost for music. Susan's sheet music didn't cost her a thing.
"There are so many," says Susan about the music stored in a special cabinet and on shelves near her Steinway piano.
"I'd say I have about two to three thousand pieces of it," says Susan, all neatly filed.
It's not just any collection sheet music.
"I have all my grandmother's sheet music," says Susan with a smile.
She's played about 500 of the songs and intends to walk in her grandmother's musical shadow by playing each piece someday.
"When I look at all this music, I know she is here with me," says Susan, flipping through several pages of music sitting on the piano.
Susan feels musically guided.
"She's teaching me how to play this music," says Susan.
What would her late grandmother likely say about Susan's piano playing?
"I think she's saying: ‘Good job, Suzie,'" says Susan.
Sometimes Susan's plays for special events such as the recent Fall Feather Hunt.