Mom Project

December 19, 1987, Sheba Rivkin Beckerman – my mom – died from systemic Lupus.

That was 30 years ago.  After she was buried, dad, and us kids went through her things looking for mementoes. Anything that had to do with music, seemed to come to me.  So to this day, I have her piano stool, her accordion, and most of the classical sheet music from her childhood where some very enthusiastic (harsh / mean) piano teachers scribbled notes and marked up passages.  A lot of the pencil scrawls are in Russian.

Grandpa Charles had been the first oboist in the Moscow Symphony orchestra.  That’s a really important seat in the orchestra – if nothing else he plays note that the rest of the musicians use to tune up.  Maybe a B-Flat (one of you will surely know).

It’s a long, and mostly tragic story, about how Grandpa Charles, arrived in this country with his two Russian speaking daughters.  He tried his best to turn them into musicians but that didn’t take.  My mom (Sheba) was born here, in New York.  And Grandpa Charles, knew early on that he had struck gold.  My mom was a born musician.  Perfect pitch.  Was reading music before the picture below was taken.  And a domineering father who would turn talent into terror.

Yes, she played at Carnegie Hall with some famous violinists before she was a teenager.

At some point, she began skipping music lessons, and it brought down the wrath of Grandpa Charles.  But she stopped practicing, and went on with her life.  She played popular music at parties.  After she married, she’d play piano at summer camps, and things like that.  Very few people knew her background.

Whatever artistic abilities I have – musical, artistic – come straight down from the Russian side of the family.

(That’s the prelude).  So as I’ve been experimenting with movies and sound recording (once again) I came up with the idea of doing a short (and I mean short) film with some of the things I’ve saved of hers; and using her music, recorded at least 40 years ago (she could never play again once she had Lupus) – which she made for an uncle of mine who was dying of cancer and loved to listen to mom play.  That was for my Uncle Hy – my father’s older brother.

Anyway, I always wanted to try and tell the story of my mom’s life – and this is a good start.  I still have some techniques with the software etc. to figure out, and that’s mostly what I’m doing now.  I have my Adobe subscription so I can use Premiere for the editing and Audition for the musical work (a lot of cleaning up).

So this is really just a reminder to myself to get on with it.  There are other projects I have in mind as well.  And already, I’m running out of space with my ISP, so step one in all this is to go to Bluehost (ISP) and start the clean up.  It scares me a little bit because it’s been a long time since I’ve done anything too technical.  I mean yesterday, after deleting a whole bunch of files that I was sure had nothing to do with this site — everything went black.

WTF did I delete?  But I reinstalled WordPress – and voila it all came back.

I also want to do some narration.  I hope this whole project doesn’t upset anyone in the family.  But the idea is too good to let go.

Sheba Rivkin

Sheba Rivkin, 5 Years Old, Professional Portrait Studio