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Home and Building, Volume 18 Number 1 (June 1955)


page 53

No, that's not quite true. There's one thing about the piano. No matter how you attack it, it won't rebel by making exasperatingly unpleasant noises. But that doesn't mean that the piano is necessarily easy enough to get on with. You'll have your troubles. For a start, however, go away and make a few sounds on the piano — chopsticks or "Annie Laurie" with one finger. When you come back, I'll tell you about some of the things that will crop up. Now! Still like it?

The big first hurdle for the adult beginner on the piano is not muscular but mental. As there are about a thousand children dragooned into learning the piano for every adult who comes to it with joy and his own (or her own) freewill, most beginner's music is written to meet the market. So it comes about that having read Shakespeare, Karl Marx, T. S. Eliot and James Joyce, you may be faced at your first piano lesson with "Off to School" or "The Toddler's March". Having listened to every symphony from Haydn to Hindemith and been almost a life member of the chamber music society, you have to master music with your fingers that has as little interest as any other first reader.

Moreover, by this time of life you have probably given up study except in your own particular vocational line. It is not so much the muscles that may have seized up, but the mind. Certainly it will need a spring clean and some adjustment.

Considerable assistance in this direction, and comfort too, can be got by going to the right teacher. Not the teacher necessarily with a long list of examination successes to his name nor one whose reputation rests on turning out brilliant young artists. Tune in to the bush telegraph and find a teacher who is known to be sympathetic to the ideals and aspirations of the adult beginner.

If he is any good — as a teacher not, again, necessarily as a player — he will discover why you want to learn to play the piano and in what sort of spirit you approach the assignment. He will find you the right music too. Maybe, you are a serious thinker wishing to get right down to tin-tacks with some solid finger work. But not scales please. These are for the pianist who already knows a little about what makes the piano tick and music flow. Your teacher will point out that the first thing is to listen, to love beautiful piano sounds as sounds, then to feel them as music and, at the same time.discipline your fingers to become the servants of your ear and imagination.

Does this all sound very difficult? Does it sound too much like hard work? Believe me, it is. But this is always the payment for pleasure that is more than ephemeral. Piano playing is not a gift. But you can get it on the time payment of application and enthusiasm. After all, as I said, the main thing is that you want to do it. If that's the way you still feel about it, go to it. You'll get a lot of fun cut of it. And good luck to you.

page 54