18/07/2010

Weekend Charter: How I lost four pianos.

For this Weekend Charter Marianne and I decided to write about music. So being lazy and all, I decided to recycle something I'd posted as a Facebook note a while back. So, facebook friends, I apologize - you'll have already seen a version of this!

My first piano came to me when I was younger than Max. It was brown, rented, and was swiftly replaced by a white one. I learnt to play on the white piano, taking lessons from a prim, angora wearing, teacher from the conservatoire and later a very tall jazz pianist with hands big as steaks. I was not especially talented or hard working and by the time I was eleven, it was clear I would never become a concert pianist, a restaurant pianist, or indeed, any kind of pianist. On Christmas of that year, we had to leave the family home in a hurry. Our mother was granted custody of the children, but not, unfortunately, of the piano. By the time the piano followed us, I was fifteen, and it was out of tune.

I met my second piano some time after my eighteenth birthday. By then I was living in god-forsaken Crawley in West Sussex, with a man who played the drums so badly he fell asleep during a number. One night, after too many beers, the drum kit was swapped for a piano. It was a lovely nineteen forties upright, inlaid, and with things for hooking candles on. Somehow we got enough money together to get it tuned. I learned to play again and managed to get back to roughly the level I was at before when again I had to move in a hurry. This time I was going to London without a definite address in mind, and I just couldn't think of a way to fit the piano in a train. So it stayed behind.

Number three came from a rental shop in North London. When I moved to Brixton a few months later (you don't want to know why) I worried that the piano would, like many Londoners refuse to go South of the river. But it did come. I'm not sure whether that was thanks to my friend Warren who moved with me, or the rental company who decided it was worth their while to transport it south. When a year later I moved to Leeds, though, the piano went back to its shop.

My flat in Leeds was, it turned out, next door to a piano shop. And living with me was a musician in need of a piano. So once again we rented, then bought a very old, just about tunable piano. This time, it was the musician who had to leave in a hurry, and a year of so later, when Charlotte was born, he came to collect his piano.

Now Charlotte is 11, and we have a portable Yamaha. She is having lessons from the excellent Marina. She practices when she can, and when she remembers. We don't pressure her and she always enjoys it. We don't think she'll become a concert pianist either, but at least, given how small and light the Yamaha is, she probably won't lose it. I don't really play any more, but I like knowing that it's here.

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4 comments:

Looking for Blue Sky said...

Sounds like my life with pianos: my first big purchase, and pushed to my rented room on an old set of pram wheels, much to the amusement of the East End locals, several of whom asked what it was :)

Jean said...

Great story...really enjoyed it XXX

@jencull (jen) said...

Wow, I am intruiged!! You have many sides :) Jen

Sandrine said...

Thanks!
@Looking for Blue Sky: sounds hilarious! Did you have help pushing it though?
@Jean: Glad you liked it!
@Jen: I have a very settled,life now. I put it down to the purchase of an electric piano.

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