By Clive Stott

I attended the Burnie Infant/Primary School when I was a kid during the mid-1950s. I was forced to learn the piano when I was in Grade Two. I had to leave class early to go to lessons. You can imagine back then the ribbing a boy got in Burnie getting out early with his music bag to go to piano lessons! How embarrassing for a kid – haha!

So it was up the hill to Miss Grice, and all I did was play scales while she sat next to me, peeling her grapes. Every time I made a mistake, the ruler shot out like a lizard’s tongue and whacked me on the knuckles. I’m sure the game Whack-a-Mole originated from this.

To top it off, I had to practice the same scales for half an hour when I got home from school. I know what they mean when they say the olden days were tough!

Making deliberate mistakes didn’t work: it just meant I had to sit there longer. I eventually thought that if I could cut a little nick in each ivory from middle C up to the top note, it might do some good.

There was a big noise when my sister found it later that night, and I had my knife taken off me for three weeks. I couldn’t convince them that the piano wasn’t damaged; but it still sounded the same.

I think the piano ended up in the WEC College in Launceston.

Tas That Was is a column that includes anecdotes of life in Tasmania in the past, as well as historical photographs of locations in Tasmania. Do you have an anecdote, photograph or something else you’d like to share with us? Please send it in to