Coming Home

This girl has been trying to maintain not one, not two, but three blogs for the past few years. Needless to say, it got a bit overwhelming, especially since I tried writing on at least two of them every day. It took longer than expected, but overwhelm eventually hit, and I sort of crashed and burned. I couldn’t simply cut back, so I stopped writing altogether. A few previously scheduled posts kept my websites on life support until I was ready to wake them out of their literary coma.

But I did not stop creating piano art. In fact, here’s a sampling of the latest work to come from my studio.

And there is so much more still waiting to make the leap from idea to icon.

Not only am I happy to be working in the studio, I’m also very excited to be coming back to the blog after an extended absence so I can get my finger back on the WordPress pulse and reenter this society which I’ve come to know and love.

This past week, as I worked on reviving the writing mode within, I began by setting more reasonable goals for all three blogs. Yes, after much deliberation, I’ve decided to resume all of them, but I’ll bring a little common sense to the table this time.

What can you expect here at Encore?

The plan is to write once a week, on Tuesdays. I’ll continue my two series, From the Studio and Piano History, generally alternating between the two; and I’ll also share more curated posts from others. Curating does two things: (1) It helps my fellow writers expand their audience, and (2) It motivates me to spend nearly as much time reading as writing. After all, if we aren’t going to mingle with one another, why do we bother to write?

During my absence, WordPress changed. A lot. But change is good. Granted, in some ways, I feel as though I’m starting over again, knowing little to nothing about blogging. But it isn’t really true. I have a foundation upon which to build. And I’m truly excited about the new ways (or at least more accessible ways) to turn the blog into a platform for earnings. This makes my husband happy too, knowing that I now have the potential to see a return on the many hours of effort going into this endeavor.

I speak for many artists and small businesses when I say that the Covid-19 pandemic has robbed me of several opportunities to reach my audience face to face. Online sales are up, but they have not yet reached the full potential that was there with in-person craft fairs and art shows. I think it’s because the real me does not get to connect with the real you. That’s one reason why I’ve written this down-to-earth article. I want to speak candidly with you, take the mask off and be real with you. The financial aid available to other small businesses does not apply to me because I cannot state with certainty just how much income I’ve lost because I don’t pay myself a salary. The best I can do is estimate based upon historical sales, but that isn’t enough to slice through the red tape. No, I am dependent upon the love and concern of family, friends, and followers like you who are willing to say, “What you’re doing is important. It matters. And I want to help you keep doing it.”

How can you help?

There are four ways you can help Encore! Old Pianos to stay in business:

(1) Make a one-time or monthly donation. I recently added a donation button to Encore’s home screen. This is something new that awaited me when I returned to WordPress, and I decided to jump on board. That said, if you have found my site helpful and/or interesting, I’d appreciate your showing the love with a one-time or monthly donation.

Your donation will help me be able to dedicate more time to painting, creating, and writing. I’m currently working a part-time temporary job outside the house, but I have no desire to work permanently for someone else. My heart is here in my studio, and my passion is making people smile by providing them with unique piano art to celebrate their own talents and contributions to society. I’d love nothing more than to be able to stay home and keep doing what I’m doing—saving old pianos from the landfill—and to keep getting better at it by means of study and experience.

(2) Make a purchase. Do you see something here that you just can’t live without? Why not make it yours?

And what about the musicians in your life for whom you typically purchase a gift? Your child, sibling, parent who sings or plays an instrument? And don’t forget the teachers. Most of my items are actually purchased as gifts for music students, music teachers, choir/band directors, etc. Sometimes the entire band/choir will go in together to purchase a substantial gift for their leader.

(3) Spread the word. This is the most important of all, for the best advertising is word-of-mouth. Have you enjoyed getting a behind-the-scenes look at how my piano art comes together? Have you been able to make an informed decision on the purchase of a piano after reading one of my history articles? Or perhaps I’ve helped you identify the year your piano was made. Have you been delighted with the gems I share from my fellow bloggers? And have you been the giver—or recipient—of a piece of piano art, or perhaps a key chain or home d├ęcor item? Do you simply appreciate the fact that my end goal is to help protect our environment by repurposing old pianos that others throw out? Then tell your friends because maybe what resonated with you will also resonate with them.

(4) Donate your old piano and worn-out pieces. This last option is rather exclusive, but no less important than the rest. Perhaps you’re a piano technician, or you know one, who grieves each time you have to burn or otherwise discard the old, worn action parts. Why not send them to me? I can make great use of them.

Or maybe you own a piano that was destroyed in a fire or other disaster. I have traveled as many as 200 miles to retrieve a load of discarded pianos and sundry action pieces. And do you know how I learned about them? Through word-of-mouth! Someone passed my name along, and before I knew it, my sons and I were traveling two states over to meet a wonderful retired technician and his daughter and grandson. In fact, that’s how almost all of the 20 pianos came to me, through word-of-mouth.

And if the piano has special significance to you, I can give you a gift in exchange for your donation. Many a donor now has a piece of their cherished piano in their home, serving a practical or ornamental function while also reminding them of the many memories made while seated at those keys.

So, yes, I’m home. . .back home with my WordPress family, and asking you to receive me with open arms as I reach out to you. As I click the “Publish” button, I can almost hear you say, “Welcome home!”

Published by Angela Umphers Rueger

Hello. I am a joyful wife and mother of three, just turned loose the last of my little chicks, and getting ready to spread my own writing wings. Twenty-six years ago I earned a B.A. in English because my heart's desire was to write. Since that time I've worked as a teacher, musician, cleaning lady, tax professional, and artist, but never as a writer. In the past year, several friends have encouraged me to pick up the baton and run with it. By creating this blog, I took the first baby step toward becoming a published author. The journey will likely be longer than I can imagine, but it has finally begun, and that's all that matters.

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