Maybe not so much nightmares but bad dreams for sure. I have this dream fairly often. I am walking through a mall (!) or someplace and encounter a piano store. I walk in and see all these amazing looking pianos with incredible cabinets. Enormous concert grands that look like something out of the future. Weird but beautifully detailed cabinets. Some that look like the old Wersi organs. And then I sit down to play...
Horrible tunings, rotten keys, missing keytops. All are unplayable and sound terrible. Some are weird things that only have white keys - no sharps. One only has a single octave of keys to play.
Of course I know where all these dreams came from: my experiences learning to play the piano as a child. My parents (bless them) had a huge upright with missing keytops and rusted strings. I have no idea of the brand. There wasn't a name on the fallboard and to be honest I never opened the lid. I don't ever remember it being tuned when I was living at home. I remember they told me that they had it tuned after I went off to college (by a blind piano tuner!). And yet somehow I learned to play on the blasted thing. How I longed for something like a Kimball spinet.
The only piano stores I went to were in the malls which we had to travel to on school trips since I grew up in a tiny Texas town. My buds would all run to Chick Fil-A or Spencer's or Radio Shack. I instead found the piano store and played everything I could. Once I was playing just normal stuff and one of the sharps broke off. I guess it was a cheap crap piano. The salesman yelled at me and called the security guard to throw me out.
My mother and her twin sister would haul us kids around to every little country church they could afford the gas to drive to. We went 3 or 4 nights a week. "George, come play the piano." Some were thankfully pretty decent but most were junky. We would sometimes go to services under open pavilions out in the countryside. One in particular had an old piano that was just left there exposed to the elements. A good handful of the keys wouldn't even move. "George come play while we sing." They'd start singing a song. "What key are we in?" I'd reply "Best I can tell, somewhere here in this crack."
I did have a good friend whose daddy was a lawyer. Every now and then I'd get to go to their house. They had a small Kawai grand piano. That was a dream to play for me. I had never even heard the name Steinway.
So I graduate high school and head off to Texas A&M. They had quite a few pianos on campus that we could play but most were pretty beat up. Even so they were the best I had played up to that point. In 1985 I was exploring the lower levels of the coliseum where among other things graduation was held. I found an open storeroom and peeked in. Under a cover was what looked like the grand piano that they hauled out once a year for the graduation ceremonies. I took the cover off and started playing. It was the absolute most wonderful instrument I had ever played. That room become my secret hideaway. It was a 1950s era Steinway Model B. I told my roommate about the piano so he could enjoy it also but no one else.
In the intervening years I have owned 7 other pianos, never quite having the means to get the one I really wanted.
Last Wednesday my dream came true. I think my bad piano dreams are over.
I'm not quite sure how to insert the picture but you can click this link to see it in the Pianoworld gallery:Steinway Model B