Apr 17, 2009


I recently read an online article in the (Portland) Oregonian entitled 'Fitting a piano into your home' which mentions some basic considerations for someone thinking about getting a piano for kids' or their own music study. As someone who has played piano for over 50 years now, I realize I have a slightly different take on this whole subject.

From the moment I first laid my hands on a piano at age 10, I have experienced my instrument as part of my essential being. Part of me, as in, in addition to my legs, arms, head, etc. there is my piano. The fact that it stands apart from my physical body doesn't seem to matter.

When I am away from home, I can be happily engrossed in all kinds of exciting, interesting, fulfilling and otherwise completely satisfying experiences ..... yet there is always something missing. I can't say how many times I have half-wished I had taken up the flute or violin or even something as 'small' as a cello, because I could have taken my instrument along on road trips, or even overseas travels. But only half-wished, because I adore the piano and like most pianists, think it is the best of all instruments.

However, a piano is not small. Even the shortest, crummiest upright piano is still 5 feet wide, at least 4 feet tall, and I don't know, 18" inches deep. When I was 15 my parents splurged on a tiny (5 ft), somewhat battered, 60+ year-old Carl Fischer baby grand for me. And once I survived the obligatory freshman year in the college dorm, I have figured out where to put a grand piano in every house I've lived in since, beginning with the $75/month, rotting duplex next to the freeway in my early married years and continuing up to my current medium-sized, 50-year-old ranch-style house.

The first 'house' we ever owned was a 10 foot wide, 50 foot long, very pink mobile home, perched on top of a hill in a logged-over redwood forest in Humboldt County, California. Although this homely trailer boasted real wood paneling inside, we owned no furniture except for the mattress on the bedroom floor (no bed)and the cheap 2-chair dinette set that came with it .......... and a baby grand piano. Priorities.

A few years into my piano teaching life, I was able to trade my beloved old baby grand for a nearly-new, 6 foot Yamaha. Now we were smokin'! And a couple of years ago, I welcomed piano number 2 into my home, fulfilling a longtime dream of having 2 grands! for playing ensemble music with friends, and for teaching. Here's the view from (inside the) home these days.

So my initial response to the title of the Oregonian article was, 'well, they have it backwards, don't they? It should read: 'Fitting your home around a piano'. Because of course the piano comes first. Priorities!

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