Margaret Konkel of Pratt plays music by ear, and shares her talent with others in the community.
When Margaret Konkel of Pratt sits down at the piano to play, she doesn't need music to guide her. Since the age of five she has been able to pick out songs by hearing, a gift she has used throughout her life to share music with friends, family, community and church.
"It's a gift from God, really," she said. "When my parents bought us a piano, I just climbed up on the bench and started picking out songs I had heard. From there I began adding the other notes. I've just always played by ear."
Now near 80, Konkel plays gathering songs every Sunday morning at her church, Abundant Harvest Church of the Nazarene. At Christmas time, she played by request at a Sunday School party, needing only the name of a song to get her going.
"I figure out the key I want to play in; I really prefer flats over sharps," she said. "Then I just get going and my fingers find the way."
Konkel said she did take piano lessons for a few months when she was a first-grader in Guymon, Okla. where she grew up. But her teacher demanded that she play with music and one day she walked out of her lessons and never went back.
"I guess I was stubborn," she said. "I already knew the songs, I just wanted to do it my own way."
Konkel has been doing it her own way ever since, learning to play violin and clarinet, competing successfully in music contests, and always playing what she likes to hear.
"My favorite music to listen to is actually country and western," she said. "But I also love the old hymns, and Christmas music, I really love to play that."
As Konkel played 'Blessed Assurance' Thursday afternoon, her fingers flew over the keyboard effortlessly, pulling notes together from all octaves to create a rich, full sound.
"If I make mistakes I just keep going," she said. "I don't know the notes much past C to C in the middle two octaves, but they all follow the same pattern."
Margaret's husband, Wayne, said he enjoys listening to her practice.
"She'll play some every day," he said. "But when she goes into her music room on Saturday to spend time getting ready for Sunday morning she shuts the door. I sneak over there and open it back up because I love to hear her play. I get to hear it twice, Saturday and on Sunday."
Margaret said music has always been a focal point in her life, even though she grew up on a cattle ranch.
"I wasn't much into cows and horses," she said. "I loved to play house, dress up in fancy clothes and collect dolls. I love Victorian dolls, and angels. And music. I've always loved music."
Margaret and Wayne have lived Pratt for 21 years. She worked as a dental assistant for the Hamiltons and prior to that, in a flower shop in Kismet. She wasn't sure how many years she has played piano for her church, just suffice it to say, it's been a few. And she rarely misses a chance to share her love of the old hymns and gospel songs with others. It's a gift that keeps on giving.