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You can play the piano?? #1103973 11/11/08 08:50 AM
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loveschopintoomuch Offline OP
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More and more I find people so surprised (amazed, startled, shocked, envious???) that I can play the piano.

Just yesterday, as I was writing out a check for the man who rid our lawn of a gazillion leaves, he obviously looked into my living room and saw my grand piano. First he mentioned how beautiful it was. And I replied it was pretty old just like me. And then he (in a really wonderous tone) asked if I played. When I answered that "I try," he seemed so respectful (?)...I don't know if that's the right word, but it comes close.

He has a long Polish last name, so I told him (never miss a chance) that Chopin was Polish. I wonder now if he knew whom I meant. And then I mentioned Marie Curie and Copernicus.

I mean no disrespect for this man because he is the most responsible and hard-working person I've ever met. He comes when he says he'll come and does a perfect job on my lawn and scrubs. But he probably doesn't have much of an education. He might have had to quit school to earn a living. He has four children who often help him out, and they are so much like their father.

Later, I thought how very lucky I was. Although I never had much as a child, I did have a mother who scraped together $50 for a piano when I was a teen and who managed to find $2.00 for a piano lesson each week. I know this was a hardship for her. And I was very lucky to realize the value of an education and went to a public college to get my degree. I didn't have to worry about supporting a family. And I was very lucky to marry a man who made good money, so now I have all the material things that make life comfortable, including a beautiful piano and all the time in the world to play it.

I wished I could have told this man that the ability to play the piano pales in comparison to how hard he has to work everyday, 12 to 14 hours, I'm sure. In the heat and the rain and snow (he also owns a snowplow). And it is he who deserves my admiration and respect.

But, to get back to my original thought...why do you think that people are so taken with the idea that we can play? They seem to think it is an exceptional gift and (I'm not kidding here), they put us on some kind of invisible pedestal as if we were so special.

Have you found this to be true?

Kathleen


After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own." Oscar Wilde, 1891
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Re: You can play the piano?? #1103974 11/11/08 09:18 AM
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Perhaps when he sees a person working 12 hours a day he understands how to achieve it.

When he sees that person work a 14 hour day he will keep up with them.

He understands hard work and long hours.

but he doesn't understand or believe he would ever he able to play that piano.

It is outside his experience, much as if you asked me to service my car smile

Re: You can play the piano?? #1103975 11/11/08 09:40 AM
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sotto voce Offline
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Kathleen, my own experiences have been very different from yours (for the most part).

As a general rule—i.e., more often than not—I have found people to treat my musical avocation with indifference (and sometimes complete disinterest!). I would need to indulge in a lot of armchair psychology to speculate about why that may be, so I'll limit it to the observation that the realm of classical piano is far outside most people's ken.

I suspect that many don't know how they are "supposed" to react to it, and perhaps not to respond or acknowledge it at all is found to be the safest and most comfortable choice. Dang.

Steven

Re: You can play the piano?? #1103976 11/11/08 10:24 AM
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loveschopintoomuch Offline OP
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blackbird: You may be right although I think he is just in awe of people who choose to use their spare time pursuing such a lofty goal...instead of watching TV, that is. Or maybe he thinks we are super smart. (Ha...just in my case.)

Steven: With the bit of psychology I possess, I would definitely put these people in the class of snobs. Their apathy is nothing more than a way of coping with their admiration and even envy of your talents. I would make a guess that these people just have to wear designer clothes (with the labels preferably showing) and eat at only the "in" restaurants.

Anyone (with a healthy quantity of self-esteem) who has heard you play can only marvel and be happy for you and be proud for and with you,

I would suggest (just a suggestion, of course) that you find new acquaintances. Maybe just or two would do.

People who seem to begrudge you and your accomplishment are not people worthy of your friendship.

My best as always,
Kathleen


After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own." Oscar Wilde, 1891
Re: You can play the piano?? #1103977 11/11/08 10:32 AM
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Hmmm. Interesting post, Kathleen, and interesting response from Blackbird and Sotto voce.

I guess I have seen it both ways. One relative of mine can't believe I "waste so much time" when there is no chance I can ever make money doing it (did you guess he is young???).

Others are blown away that I even try, and wish they could/would try as well (did you guess they are old like us????)

I don't generally advertize that I am learning, as it just might lead to wanting me to play. Those that do know may ask how it's going to be polite, but I do get the sense that some could care less.

And then, the moments that make my day: My granddaughter looking at me as if I was special, my lovely bride crying everytime I attempt to play her favorite piece, the little girl in Sam Adams who touched my arm so lightly hoping something besides sweat would rub off on her.

Yea, those people are special to me. They think I am gifted and talented and smart.... I will never play for them.....


"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro
Re: You can play the piano?? #1103978 11/11/08 10:58 AM
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sotto voce Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by loveschopintoomuch:
People who seem to begrudge you and your accomplishment are not people worthy of your friendship.
I have long interpreted others' reactions to our joys and successes as a barometer of character.

I should make it clear, though, that the folks who have regarded my piano practice with indifference have been a very diverse lot: a one-time romantic interest, friends and family of my partner, neighbors, a very old friend whom I hadn't seen in many years who stayed with me for a few days, and even laborers doing household renovations.

There's no common denominator there that would allow me to ascribe snobbery (or any other single reason) to their behavior; I've come to accept that most people don't "get it."

Steven

Re: You can play the piano?? #1103979 11/11/08 11:56 AM
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A couple of days ago I had to take the plumber/remodeller who is going to be redoing our untouched since 1932 bathroom into my "piano room" since a plumbing access hatch is in there. He saw my big square grand and asked "What is that!?" I told him a piano and he seems so interested in it I had to open it up for him. I asked him if he played and he said, "no, can't carry a tune, but my first wife, she could, she could do anything with music, play, sing - - " spoken in a tone of great admiration. I had the definite impression that I'd made a few brownie points with him too.


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Re: You can play the piano?? #1103980 11/11/08 01:23 PM
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When strangers come into our house and see our piano, for some reason they without fail assume my wife is the one that plays.


Greg
Re: You can play the piano?? #1103981 11/11/08 01:24 PM
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I find most people are truly interested (and a little surprised) that I'm (still!!!) taking piano lessons. Out of these some (my husband and sons) are quite proud, some are a little inspired (friends and coworkers), some a little amused I think (mom), and almost all think that after 7 years, I should be able to play just about anything... sigh, sigh...


It's the journey not the destination..
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Re: You can play the piano?? #1103982 11/11/08 01:31 PM
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Thats an interesting observation Kathleen, I can definitely relate to what you're saying. I think that this 'awe' that many people have towards piano players (or anyone who plays an instrument or possesses a skill that has required a lot of dedication for that matter) stems from the fact that a lot of people have a desire to attain such a skill but, for whatever reason, have never attempted/bothered to learn. I can't recall the number of times I've heard people say "I've always wanted to play the piano!" or something of that nature when they discover that I play (or attempt to at least).....but it's quite a few!

As has already been mentioned, it does tend to be people of a slightly older generation who have this 'awe' towards piano players. Many colleagues of mine who are of a similar age in their early-mid twenties really couldn't give a crap! :p And thats fine by me - I don't care what they think about it and I would never expect to be considered in a different manner to anybody else just because I play the piano. So I wouldn't agree with regarding people such as this as 'snobs'.....in fact I'd be inclined to say it's slightly snobbish behaviour to expect others to consider you with any greater esteem because you play the piano.


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Re: You can play the piano?? #1103983 11/11/08 02:43 PM
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This reminds me of a little story that appeared in the Norwegian newspapers about 40 years ago. A music class at a high school in Stavanger was in session, and the janitor, and older man in his 60's, had to come in and measure a broken window. The students asked him in jest if he wanted to play someting for them at the same time. Much to their surprise, the janitor put away his tools, walked over to the piano, sat down and played a Chopin valse. 24 jaws dropped in unison, and the story hit the papers including a photo of the artist.


Some men are music lovers. Others make love without it.
Re: You can play the piano?? #1103984 11/11/08 03:30 PM
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I can think of 2 reasons right off the bat. Reason #1: They're intimidated by the "classical" factor and think you have to be a genius to play.

Reason #2: That shiny sea of black and white keys looks scary to someone who has never taken the time to understand. The piano can be a scary instrument but like all others, easily understood with the right explanation.

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Re: You can play the piano?? #1103985 11/11/08 04:15 PM
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Les Koltvedt Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by BB Player:
When strangers come into our house and see our piano, for some reason they without fail assume my wife is the one that plays.
Ditto here and then, if asked to play, I tell them that I'm taking lessons and the response is... "you gotta be kidding me"...does put a smile on my face...

Had my mother-in-laws surprise 80th birthday party this past Sat... and she asked me to play something for her...made my day...although I haven't let her know that...lol


Les Koltvedt
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Re: You can play the piano?? #1103986 11/11/08 05:19 PM
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And then there was my recent house guest who commented that she had heard enough of one particular piece I was working on. She does play the piano (I don't know how well, she never touched my piano in 3 weeks), and I guess she assumed I *already* knew how to play (but she would have had to assume I hadn't learned very well! smile ). I told her I was trying to make it better, finished the practice session, and never played it again while she was here. I told my husband I should pick out some particularly nasty two bars (those zigzag bars from Minuet 1 of the Bach Partita in B-flat were what I had in mind) and work on them over and over for hours. Then another two bars.

On the other hand, there have been a number of people who do not play who have expressed some sort of admiration for the effort I am making. But I am sure very few of them realize the work it takes!

And there is the lady at church who plays for choir and sight reads like a whiz who is amazed at the technique I have learned and how fast my fingers can go. I appreciate people like her--who can make me feel good even when they are way better than I am!

Re: You can play the piano?? #1103987 11/11/08 06:20 PM
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I believe that people's response tends to be rooted in their ability to value and appreciate music. Some love to listen to music and admire those who play it. Others could care less and are unimpressed by anything musical. Either way, I try to never take anyone's reaction personally. It's only an indication of one's ability to take in the riches life has to offer. I agree that those older seem to appreciate more. Those seasoned by time just seem to be nicer people. I suppose after experiencing enough heartache in life one chooses to try their best to make it a nicer place.


Keep it fun, and stay motivated!

If you can achieve something without a struggle, it's not going to be satisfying.

Re: You can play the piano?? #1103988 11/11/08 06:31 PM
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kentm Offline
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When people put me on a pedestal at the thought that I play the piano, I just PLAY for them.....

They take me off the pedestal real quick... wink


Play skillfully!.....Psalm 33:3
Re: You can play the piano?? #1103989 11/11/08 10:15 PM
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I get the same reaction from some people when they learn that I am a certified pilot
with our own plane. Some people are in awe, others shake their head and say I'm crazy.

Now that I am trying to learn how to play the piano I am the one in awe of you good people that are eons ahead of me with your progress.


Best regards,
Ted

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Re: You can play the piano?? #1103990 11/11/08 10:53 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by loveschopintoomuch:


But, to get back to my original thought...why do you think that people are so taken with the idea that we can play? They seem to think it is an exceptional gift and (I'm not kidding here), they put us on some kind of invisible pedestal as if we were so special.

I get a mixed reaction when I tell people I play a piano and taking lessons, most of them their eyes pop out when I tell them what my interests and hobbies are. I also enjoy doing pencil drawings and pastel drawing mainly portraits, as well as play the piano (term used loosely in my case laugh ) Being a millwright by trade working machinery maintenance and construction, we are stereotyped as beer guzzling, rough and ready type people. Well I am not I enjoy my interests and my family and friends are very supportive, even though a little surprised I play.
I guess the old cliche, "you can't judge a book by it's cover" is true in my case. I don't think anyone puts me on a pedestal but it does create allot of questions in conversation, and genuine interest.

Re: You can play the piano?? #1103991 11/11/08 10:56 PM
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DP

Re: You can play the piano?? #1103992 11/12/08 12:24 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by loveschopintoomuch:

But, to get back to my original thought...why do you think that people are so taken with the idea that we can play? They seem to think it is an exceptional gift and (I'm not kidding here), they put us on some kind of invisible pedestal as if we were so special.

Have you found this to be true?

Kathleen
I think the same of dancers or contortionists.
I don't think they're exceptional gifts, but exceptional skills for sure. I admire them in awe, and what they can do seems almost magical to me. I feel the same about classical guitarists.
To see their fingers moving fast on the keys of the guitar as they produce polyphonic music using just one part, is fantastic. Their invisible pedestal is all deserved in my opinion.

If we weren't able to play the piano, we would think it's exceptional too. After all the idea of producing the music of a whole orchestral, with perfectly coordinated finger and arms motions IS exceptional. And I'm in awe and admiration anyway, when I see a concert pianist playing with total effortless control and spectacular coordination. There's something inherently beautiful in watching the fingers of a pianist moving coordinately, it's far more suggesstive than looking at a trumpet player.

You might see a parallel with circus. What we love abour jugglers is their extreme coordination.
That's why we observe them with such awe.

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