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Syndic Literary Journal


Written by Paul M. Levitt


Narrated by Syndic Literary Journal Poets

Published by LeRoy Chatfield


Introduction by the Publisher

Paul. M. Levitt, Professor Emeritus of English,  University of Colorado at Boulder, has written 14 Moral Fables that I have agreed to publish ~ and narrate ~  in serial-fashion in Syndic Literary Journal.

The titles of these Moral Fables are: Bad Words; Crybaby; Making Believe and Day Dreaming; Drawing the Line; Eating; Pocket Money; Nay Saying; Practice; Respect; Shouting; Tidiness; Telling the Truth; Whining; and No Bullying

The narration for each Moral Fable is  provided by a Poet  from Syndic Literary Journal.

I hope you will enjoy these moral fables as much as I do.

~ LeRoy Chatfield, Publisher


Moral Fable No.7  ~  Practice

Narrated by Poet Alison Morse


     “Practice your scales and exercises,” Mrs. Wideman daily reminded her daughter.

     “Practice makes perfect,” Mr. Wideman chimed in.

     Ruthie, their seven year old daughter, had just started taking piano lessons.  Her parents, who liked the sound of music, thought that a girl should know how to dress and dance, and also how to play the piano.  Piano playing, they said, made a girl attractive, the hit of the party.  They hoped that one day their daughter would be able to entertain her friends with “America the Beautiful,” or “Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair,” or “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” or some other popular songs and show tunes.

     But Ruthie, like most children, didn’t want to practice, particularly on those days when she could hear the sound of her friends’ voices rising and falling on the summer air.

     “Practice your scales and exercises,” her mother repeated.

     “You can’t go outside to play until you practice your lessons,” her father told her.

     Up and down the scales went her hands.  The white keys and the black keys passed before her eyes as she practiced the fingering of first the right hand and then the left hand.  Up and down the keyboard, every day after school, she ran her fingers through the scales.

     “Practice, practice, practice,” repeated her mother.

     “Practice is the best teacher,” counseled her father.

     “Practice,” said Ruthie, “drives me crazy!”

     But Mr. and Mrs. Wideman were very strict.  They meant what they said.  Ruthie was not allowed to play outside after school unless she practiced her scales first.  She wasn’t allowed to leave the house on weekends until she had practiced in the morning for at least two hours.  So Ruthie practiced every day after school and every Saturday and Sunday morning.  She practiced her scales, up and down, down and up, the right hand and the left, the left hand and the right.

     After Ruthie had practiced scales for many months, her mother asked her when she was going to play a song, something like “America the Beautiful” or “Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair.”

     “I have to practice my scales and other exercises before I can play a song,” answered Ruthie.

     Once again, her fingers traveled up and down the keyboard, as she practiced scales, arpeggios, and chord progressions.  In and out, this way and that, she ran her fingers, training them, preparing them for that future day when the chords and exercises would enable her to play a different kind of music.

     After a year, her father asked her why she never played any songs, things like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” or, her mother’s favorite, “America the Beautiful.”

     “Practice,” answered Ruthie, “is everything.”

     “But you’ve practiced your scales and arpeggios and progressions long enough,” replied her father.

     “That’s true,” said Ruthie.  “It’s time now to practice trills, octaves, and repetitions.”

     And that’s exactly what she did.  She went up and down the keys, practicing trills, octaves, and repetitions.  Day in and day out, she practiced her exercises, until her parents thought that they would go crazy.

     “Wouldn’t you like to go outside and play?” asked her father.

     “Isn’t it a lovely afternoon?” added her mother.

     But Ruthie just nodded her head and answered, “I have to practice.”

     “Why?” asked her father.

     “Because,” she explained, “now that I’ve learned scales, arpeggios, chord progressions, trills, octaves, and repetitions, I have to learn parallel third exercises, etudes, and tremolos.  And the only way to learn them is through practice, practice, practice.  After all, practice makes perfect.”

     Her parents didn’t know what to do.  Every day after school and all day Saturday and Sunday, she practiced.  When she wasn’t at school, she was playing the piano.  The house was never free of the sound of piano exercises.  She practiced, practiced, practiced.

     “I’ll double your allowance,” said her father, “if you’ll go outside and play.”

     “What about my practice?” asked Ruthie.

     “Everyone needs a break now and then,” answered her father.  “I think you ought to join your friends and play some games.”

     “Thanks, Dad,” said Ruthie, “but I’d rather practice than play games.  The piano is my first love.”

     “Maybe,” suggested her mother, “you’d like to spend the summer with your Aunt Della in Maine.”

     “She doesn’t have a piano,” said Ruthie.  “How could I practice?”

     Mr. and Mrs. Wideman just sighed.

     When Ruthie had mastered parallel third exercises, etudes, and tremolos, she moved on to practicing crescendos, and decrescendos.  And after learning crescendos and decrescendos, she started playing children’s music written by Mozart.

     “What’s that?” her mother asked.

     “It’s called ‘Ah, Vous Dirai-Je Maman,'” Ruthie answered.  “Mozart wrote it.”

     “Couldn’t you play ‘America the Beautiful?'” asked her mother.  “We all know that one.”

     “‘Fraid not, said Ruthie.  “After Mozart comes Bach and Beethoven, and then Brahms and Bartok.”


What would you advise?

  1. that Ruthie stop practicing;
  2. that Ruthie practice all the more;
  3. that Ruthie play “America the Beautiful”;
  4. that Ruthie spend the summer in Maine with Aunt Della;
  5. that Mr. and Mrs. Wideman just ignore her;
  6. that Mr. and Mrs. Wideman learn to play the piano themselves?



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