Excerpts

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From Chapter 1:

At age seven, I had one fixation. I knew I wanted to be a piano teacher. I wondered how I would ever get a piano. What a stunning instrument it was, so captivating. The sound was magical; its mass impressed me; the mystery lured me. I only wished that I could have my friend Liz’s lessons. Liz did not agree that the lessons were enjoyable. She said I would detest them and loathe the teacher. Still, I wondered how I could arrange to become a pianist and a piano teacher.

* * *

My parents finally relented and gave me piano lessons that Christmas [when I was fifteen]. They promised me one year of piano, and after that I would have to pay for my own lessons, if I liked them. Now, with the lessons I had wanted for so long, I was starting to know who I was. As promised the lessons were indeed tedious, but I stuck it out. I remember thinking that the lessons should not be this way. The adventure of discovery of music was missing; there were no questions asked – “just do as the teacher says.” I stuck with the lessons until I was a senior in high school, though my parents were right about the lackluster part.

From Chapter 3:

I needed a pianist to accompany me for my senior concert on the clarinet [in college]. I wanted someone who could handle the challenging music — a Brahms Sonata and a zippy Beethoven Trio. I could think of only one candidate: Rein. He exuded joy in both the music and the math, and he spent a lot of time with me during my senior year. He was upbeat, and his laughing eyes and his accent were a further attraction. The more I hung around with him the more I felt that we were plunging into an unknown but amazing abyss, a stirring, and clandestine, love affair.

From Chapter 4:

It was very difficult to create a program when you saw the children only once a week. And times were hard in Vermont. The little rural schools were filled with pale and frail children, often having had no breakfast, wearing short-sleeved cotton dresses in the midst of the fiercest winters I have ever known. The sight sent shivers down my body.

From Chapter 6:

We had a housekeeper of sorts, who came in once a week. One day, when the children were young, I made soup in an attempt to contribute to the family’s meals. The concoction was a rather dirty grey color, and it had the remains of one of Rein’s Sunday omelets floating hideously on top. The next day I couldn’t find the soup anywhere, and I was counting on it for dinner. The children guessed what had happened before I did. Tasha said, “It slip-slided away.” The housekeeper had thrown the liquid down the drain, thinking it was dirty dishwater. I knew everyone was glad the soup was gone, and to this day they remind me of my famous “garbage soup.”

From Chapter 7:

Since piano was such a lonely enterprise, we wanted to create a new and fresh approach for our kids in the summer: duet playing, everyone practicing at the same time, creating musical games, listening to music performed by others, and active master classes with input from all. Summer seemed like a great time to play the piano with your friends all around you. Our minds were coming up with new ideas, and we decided to take a leap of faith, and try out this summer idea with our own children and a few others.

* * *

We helped them separate the difficult parts of the piece from the whole and gave tips on how to solve the problems. Piano playing is a lot about listening to the sounds you make, as well as problem solving. The kids craved more music and techniques for daily practice, as the program rolled along. This was what Rein and I had searched for, and here it was right in front of us, right before our very ears. They all were greedy for more.

From Chapter 17

The piano is something to love, although a bit hard to hug. It has legs and can dance. A piano is to adore and caress and it will give you back the rewards you give to it. It is a gift for you to share with others. Your passion and compassion grow along with the music, as you become one with your instrument.

The piano can soothe when the world is hectic, and it can make you forget about time passing or smaller problems.  There  will  be  days  that  you  feel  gloriously attached to your instrument, and other days when playing it will be the most frustrating activity you have ever done.

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