Wanted: piano in Maui


How long can I stand not having a piano to practise on?

There’s an upright piano (a spinet) at the community centre nearby where I can practise in the afternoons. The first time I tried the piano, it was out of tune. After it got tuned for our short concert, I tried it again. Several groups were playing mah jong. They didn’t mind and even applauded after Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, the only sheet music I had that was remotely Christmassy. The mah jong players invited me to snack with them during the break and gave me Haiku tangerines. “Come back next week,” they said when I was leaving.

A kind lady offered her Steinway grand in south Kihei. It’s at least a half-hour drive to her beautiful home. My sister told me of another place in Kihei with a grand piano that I’ve yet to visit.

There are many churches nearby. I’m sure there are pianos I could use, but first I need to enquire.

Still, I get tempted when I see a piano for sale. Perhaps I just want a piano in my home and not anywhere else.

On Craigslist I spotted pianos for sale: an upright piano — a medium-brown-coloured spinet left behind when the house got sold. The new owners initially advertised it for $300 two weeks ago. Now they changed it to $250 or better offer. I imagine it sitting in the corner in my living room. I would wake up and play it to my heart’s content.

The piano reminds me of the Yamaha console my father had bought brand new for our family. We all learned to play the piano. My mother told me that she took lessons with us because we were the first and only students of our Japanese piano teacher (at that time.) She stopped when our teacher recruited other students. Sadly my father sold the piano after we had grown up and left home. I guess I’m still pining for that piano.

Yamaha upright in Okinawa, Japan

Yamaha upright in Okinawa, Japan

Buying a piano is not a trivial thing. In my article “Buying a piano: a decision maker’s guide,” I advised buyers to get a professional assessment (by a piano technician) before deciding. I did not add that there are costs of moving, tuning, advertising and selling when one leaves.

Why buy a piano if you can rent one? In Houston, I rented a Baldwin upright on a monthly basis for 14 months. I did not have to find a mover or a tuner. One phone call and it arrived. Another phone call and it left. What a joy it was to play! What a joy it was to compose!

Rented Baldwin upright piano in Houston, Texas

Rented Baldwin upright piano in Houston, Texas

What I really want is not a piano in my home but access to a piano in a room (nearby) where I can practise without an audience. When I’m aware of the presence of someone else listening, my playing becomes a performance. What I really miss is being able to practise on a good instrument close by, whenever I want, and for as long as I want.

The guitarist has no longing as such. His guitar is always a heart beat away, anywhere he goes.

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6 Comments

Filed under audience, piano, rehearsal, sheet music, sight reading, travel

6 responses to “Wanted: piano in Maui

  1. Ah, I can totally relate to this post. As I was reading about the Craiglist piano offered, I thought, “Get it!” Then as I read on to learn about the rented piano, I thought, “Rent one!” There is truly no substitute for playing alone in your own time and space. Inspiration strikes, and provided it won’t wake the neighbors, the call must be answered … if it’s too late, I must hum quietly into my phone or write/type up lyrics with 1 2 3 4 placed strategically among the syllables to remind myself of the rhythm and melody I was hearing in my head at the time the words arrived.

    Performance is one aspect of being a musician, and surely for many artists it becomes a treasured one. But the creative process of writing a song or defining your own interpretation of a piece—this is a highly personal thing. We perform to share the joyful, cathartic or healing qualities of music with others, often in hopes that they too will experience joy, catharsis, healing … we create simply because we must. This time is just for us, each one of us musician or not: to explore and discover or reflect and affirm something about the world around us and how we see it, something that resonates deep within ourselves and simply must be expressed. Once whatever it is has become such a part of us that we can express it forward and back, without thinking or worrying about understanding it more clearly or “getting it right”—then it will be time to share it with whomever is open to listening.

  2. I know this feeling all too well from times past and can empathize. I think that a local music school or the music department of any college might enable you to rent a practice space with a piano, or if you are very nice, they might enable you to use the space until a tuition-paying student needs it. Good luck!

  3. Well put, Manisha & Melissa!
    I will explore these avenues after I get the writing and reading bug out of my system. Right now, it feels great to have lots of (non-piano playing) time to read and blog. Not having a piano is just an excuse to write about it, I’m afraid.

  4. Wonderful…enjoy the reading and writing! They, too, will feed your artistry. Sometimes a break is the best thing that can happen for your musicality.

  5. Pingback: Live piano music for new art exhibition | Concert Blog

  6. If you hunger for a real piano……visit us in Honolulu and play one of our fine Steinway concert grands or any of the other pianos in the Steinway family.

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