When I look over my blog entries of the last several months, there are two predominant themes:   Music . . . and Creepy Crawlers.  And this morning,  those two themes coincided in a most unusual and unexpected way.

I spent a good portion of my Saturday morning play piano accompaniments for about ten Union Grove High School students for solo and ensemble contest.  (Kenosha and Racine do their contests in the spring,  but some schools opt for the fall.  U.G. is one of them.)   It’s a much smaller event than either Racine or Kenosha, with a grand total of six rooms in operation.  (There’s at least three times that many in the spring contests)  so things are a bit more easy-going, although the stakes are just as high for each student.  Fortunately,  everyone I played for did well-  and a private student of mine named Emily scored her first one-star rating ever and will be heading to her first state contest in the spring.   So it was a very good day for Emily,  who was tremendously anxious to reach this goal after two successive, disappointing near misses.

The reason creepy crawlers are part of my experience in Muskego (the contest was at Muskego High School)  is that while I was playing for Emily’s second piece (“Think of Me” from Phantom of the Opera)  I caught a glimpse of something moving just under the bottom surface of the music rack of the electric piano I was playing.   I wasn’t using any music because she was singing the piece in a different key,  so my eyes were free to stray to whatever was moving-  and it took about a verse and a half before I finally figured out that I was sharing that electric piano with a boxelder bug. . .  and a few moments after that,  I realized that it had a partner.   And the two of them are evidently Andrew Lloyd Webber fans because they kept traipsing back and forth as I played, seeming to enjoy the music as much as I was.    Fortunately, they didn’t venture on to the keys,  where they might have met with a tragic and messy fate – had they gotten in my way.   (That would have been a rather disagreeable situation for me as well, trying to play music with box elder bug guts all over my hands.)  Such carnage never occurred because they seemingly knew their proper place and kept a safe distance.

This is not the first time I’ve heard of boxelder bugs liking music.  A now legendary story about my mom – but it’s absolutely true – is about one of the first times she sang a solo in church.  This would have been back in Colton, South Dakota – so we’re talking about maybe 45 years ago.   Her dear friend and fellow choir member Joyce Farr remembers looking over at my mom just as she was beginning to sing some solo line (actually, come to think of it,  mom and Joyce were probably singing together-  my mom had a lovely voice but it would have taken the threat of a  firing squad plus a Brink’s truck filled with currency to coerce her to sing a solo in front of people.)  . . .  and she saw my mom’s mouth open wide, singing joyously –  with a huge boxelder bug crawling across her eyeglasses.  Joyce always loved a big laugh – as much as anyone I’ve ever known – so I can’t imagine her not seeing a sight like that without busting out in gales of laughter. . . even in the midst of a church service.  O to have been a box elder bug on the wall (I almost said ‘fly’) for that hilarious moment!

Funny what a bug crawling on an electric piano can brings to mind.

pictured above:   one of the two aforementioned boxelder bugs on the piano.   It would be mighty impressive if I had managed to take this photo while in the midst of playing the accompaniment (if it had been something easy like ‘Caro mio ben’ I probably would have tried)  but in fact I took this picture after Emily had sung and was receiving a verbal critique from the judge.