I bought a used grand piano on Craig’s list. Phew! What a lot of lessons. The one that I thought I was learning is that dedication to learning an instrument requires a substantial investment, in time and in the instrument itself. But that’s not what I learned. . . yet. I expect the obvious lesson to play out over the course of many years but the less obvious ones are front and center.
1. Trust in Allah but tie up your camel — I bought the piano from a man named Carlos. At least I think that’s his name. His address is 205 Northfield Dr. in Universal City. Carlos seemed to be a lovely man, very generous, very helpful and very straightforward. I took him at his word. Carlos lied to me. . . about the fact that he had the piano pedals attached in the past and that reattaching them would be routine. The pedals as well as other parts on this piano don’t belong on this piano. And in fact, they don’t work on this piano.
Carlos lied to the piano movers when he omitted telling them that they would have to haul this grand piano up a full flight of stairs. I assume that he lied to me about pretty much everything else, except the fact that he was a failed mortgage banker. He isn’t returning my calls. Who’s surprised?
2. Frankenstein deserved love too. I could hate this piano because it isn’t what I wanted and it’s cobbled together out of loose parts that were lying around in some piano technician’s workshop. That technician took those spare parts and made a monster. I got the monster, a changeling.
My piano technician said, “Dump this piano and get a good one but do it truthfully. Don’t do what Carlos did you you.” Right. I wouldn’t but I also wouldn’t buy a piano with a story like this one. Would you?
He said, “The baby you have adopted is ugly and will never amount to anything in this world.” I am choosing to love this piano, because it’s the one that I have. (Thereby subverting desire — see below). I may never amount to anything in this world of piano playing either. So there. At least we’ll have each other.
3. There really are very few bargains left in the world. We all know so much about the value of things. It’s like the stock market. Most adjustments in value are made in micro-seconds. You get what you pay for, unless you go to Busse’s Flea Market. Then you get something else entirely. I’m not sure what.
4. Just because someone else has something so lovely that you desire it, doesn’t mean that you can or should have one too. Oooooh, this is BIG! I have a friend who is a beautiful, professional musician with a great singing voice who plays many instruments successfully. Yes, all those things, dammit! On top of all that, she has a piano so sweet that it will make you cry. It is a VERY expensive piano and one that I can’t keep my hands off of when I am in her house. The way the action works invites you to touch it. It’s a Claude Debussy piano. I went in search of that piano experience and settled on big sound. But then, all grand pianos have bigger sounds than spinets. And they direct the sound into the room through that open top. The piano I got is more of a Jerry Lee Lewis piano.
5. Precious things require special care. This piano isn’t a precious thing. See above. That means that anyone can play it. Kids can play it; people who don’t know what they’re doing can play it (we will stop short of setting drinks on it). And once the legs are stablized, I can sit on it, or lay across it, in a red dress. Not with the lovely piano above, but then my friend is tiny so maybe it’s not the same for her. My piano is not a worry; it’s a toy.
So that’s my set of piano lessons. You’d think if I can learn these, I can learn to play even this piano better than I play today. I expect that’s true. But I need a working LOUD pedal. Surprised?