Pianos are splendid. Here is a book that explains with brio how they came to be.
My friend Julan Chu, a gifted pianist, lent me a fine, shiny piano. It felt wrong to have it and not to play it, so I began to take lessons again last January.
My lessons became virtual when the pandemic arrived, and they also became more important to me. The discipline of practicing scales and pieces has been an anchor (a metronome?) during these strange times.
In the book Dancing Hands, Margarita Engle tells the story of the pianist, composer and singer Teresa Carreño, who immigrated to the U.S.A. from Venezuela during the Civil War. This book tells the story of the power of music in light and dark times- like a piano it conveys a whole range of emotions. Click here for a link to the illustrator Rafael Lopez’s fantastic blog about how he illustrated the book.
Although I am practicing and playing through dark and cloudy times, you wouldn’t illustrate my attempts with vivid blossoms. My hands stumble and squawk more often than they dance.
But it is interesting to try, and it is satisfying to see incremental change. Every once in a while I can make music.
When I am at the piano I need to let everything else go, which is difficult. I realize how fractured my attention has become. Practicing requires presence.
In May Christoph Niemann published a graphic essay in the New York Times about the solace of learning piano as an adult during the pandemic. (Click HERE for a link.) He brilliantly illustrated the pain and the pleasure of the practice. Now he has turned that essay into a book: Pianoforte.
His illustrations are perfectly compressed ideas – succinct, funny, and true to my experiences.
He shows the frustrations …
the side benefits…
and the ephemeral pleasures.
And here is a link to the website of my fantastic piano teacher, Carrie Kahler. She teaches young children as well as adults. Because the lessons are virtual you could sign up no matter where you live.
What has kept you going during the pandemic? Please share your thoughts in the comment section. Thank you.