Your first ukulele: borrow, rent, or buy?

The first question anybody asks to join the ukulele community is how to get hold of a ukulele. They come in all sizes and shapes: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. For adults, I’d recommend a concert size. For children, I’d say soprano size.

Continue reading “Your first ukulele: borrow, rent, or buy?”

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Monument house for rent in Utrecht, Netherlands

The monument house at Keulsekade 25, Utrecht, Netherlands is available for rent: 4 bedrooms, 2 toilets, 1 bathroom and a separate garden house with its own toilet, shower, sink, and tatami sleep area. Front and back gardens. Floor heating. High ceilings. Everything you want in a central location, convenient for shopping and the central station in Utrecht. Available 15 Oct 2013.

A year ago Robert and I put up our house in Utrecht, Netherlands for sale and for rent. We wanted neither, of course. But we were on opposite sides of the earth, 12 time zones apart, dealing with a situation that required us to empty our home and take the first offer. Had we sold it, we’d be closing an important chapter in our lives.

Luckily the first couple who saw the renovated Dutch monument house fell in love with it and offered to rent it.

Whew! We didn’t have to sell it. Thus I never wrote part 2 of my blog: monument house for sale. But we still had to remove everything, including my beloved Steinway.

Now it’s up for rent again.

Available in mid-October 2013 – the entire house plus the garden house behind it.

I wish a musician would rent it — then we would move the 1909 Steinway grand back where it belongs.

The piano room in the Dutch Monument House in Utrecht
The piano room in the Dutch Monument House in Utrecht

From 2006 to 2011, we met our commitments to hold two concerts per year as part of the Monument House Concert Series in that lovely space. The last one on 2nd July 2011, only a day after the first one, was a good-bye to years of music making. I can’t watch the video in the next blog without tears, but I will try to use it in introducing minimalistic music in the “Introduction to Music Literature” class I’m teaching this semester at University of Hawaii Maui College.

For more information: visit Sabbatical Homes

Positive feedback

Satisfied tenants leave positive feedback after staying in a house full of classical music and excellent feng shui in London. The house is now available for rent.

This compact Victorian cottage has excellent feng shui and a history of house concerts that made the neighborhood a community. Shortly before I left London, I set up the Neighborhood Watch which became a resident association. Soon I will experience that familiar feeling of “coming home” once more.  Below are examples of positive feedback from satisfied tenants.

Garden at Victorian Cottage in London
Historians from Canada and USA, October – November 2008  The house was lovely, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to have a proper home. I’ve been researching with much less comfortable housing for the past three weeks and I definitely miss it.Thanks again for everything. I’ve really loved staying in your house. It’s a wonderful place.
Medical doctor, nurse, and young daughter (3) from Alaska,
Jan – July 2008
We are going to have so many fun memories. Icing on the cake to a great sabbatical in London. Thank you so much.
Family of four from New Zealand: grandparents & two grandchildren (10 & 12),
July 2006
We would recommend it to anyone considering renting the house! We were all very happy there and enjoyed our holiday immensely.The cottage is ideally situated – sunny and comfortable. Quiet location – handy to all facilities. The house is very well equipped – everything we needed for a family stay. We had a most enjoyable time and, although it was only for three weeks, the house was soon referred to as “home” – such was the pleasant atmosphere that has been created.
Family of four from abroad,
2004-2006
We took a long let (18 months) at this lovely property and have not regretted it for one minute. The house has an ambience that makes it a home. We have two small children and there was plenty of space for them to play in the living room, the dining room and the tiled, walled garden with its gorgeous camellia.It was lovely in summer or winter to stroll in Fielding Walk, which the back garden overlooks, while the close proximity of Lammas and Walpole Parks were such an advantage for the children. The play centre in Lammas Park is a wonderful free resource and close by Fielding School has a great reputation.

Street parking has never been a problem and the tube is just a few minutes walk away, great for getting to Heathrow or going to the West End for a night. The local shops were a few minutes walk away and bigger supermarkets just 15-20 minutes walking or a short bus ride.

We felt like we were living in caring community where neighbours are neighbourly, helpful and friendly and our landlady, Anne, very easy to get along with.

Thanks so much Anne and Robert. When we are settled back in our home country, please come and visit us.

French/Chinese couple (30’s) with 6 year old son, January 2004  We stayed in Anne’s house for five weeks before moving to our own.Anne’s house is lovely and comfortable, especially the very bright kitchen with a view to the garden.The house is in a quiet and convenient area (for those who take the tube).

We really made ourselves feel at home in Anne’s house, partly because Anne is a very nice and understanding landlady (not easy to find in London)!!

3rd generation Irish
single, harpist, 40’s
As always, one instinctively knows within minutes of walking in the front door, whether or not a house would be a happy place to make your home. On my first visit to Anne’s home, I instantly knew that this house had been given much love, care and attention over the years.The nice exceptionally clean and bright dining room and kitchen are very romantic. The rear walled garden is where we had the most rememberable barbecue last summer, I remember playing harp in the garden after the party till the early hours. The house is in such a quiet road, I slept so well and felt I was on holiday there !
English/American
single, pianist, 20’s,
Sept-Dec 2003
Anne’s house is a haven of peace and tranquility, the kitchen is modern and very cosy and the antique wooden floors and white walls make the whole house very furbished and very clean with a rich Victorian feel. I loved staying there, there’s lots of room, lots of people could stay as there are 2 bedrooms and a completely furnished loft. You won’t find another house like this that you can rent in Ealing.The garden is very peaceful and extremely well kept and has the been the scene of many garden parties and barbeques. Everyone who has stayed there, including me, have felt disappointed to leave.
English/Italian
single, pianist, late 30’s
Anne’s house offers the perfect ambience after a busy day in London. Situated down a pretty tree-lined avenue, the 10 minute walk from the tube station is well worth the effort.Inside there is everything you need: a well equipped kitchen, spacious dining room and lounge, quiet comfortable bedrooms and a modern stylish bathroom. The house is also within easy reach of late night convenience stores, restaurants and take aways.

Wanted: home for a Steinway

Steinway grand piano from 1909 New York model A 188 cm is up for sale, rent, or loan. Resident piano in Keulsekade, Utrecht, Netherlands, Monument House Concert Series performances and chamber music rehearsals. A fine instrument.

My relocation to the Netherlands in 2003/2004 coincided with a refund of monies from Singapore. It was a milestone for change.

Frustrated by the daily challenge of finding a good piano to practise at the conservatory in Utrecht and the inadequate upright piano at home in Bussum, I decided to find a grand piano of my own.

First I visited the local piano shop whose owner led me to a room full of Yamahas. I could not find a piano that was special enough to be different. I abandoned the idea of a Yamaha and went for a Steinway instead. The story of how I found that piano and the piano technician who helped me negotiate the price is an interesting one, perhaps for another blog post. He did request that I visit his atelier after I got back from Taiwan. A month later, the French polished, restrung Steinway grand arrived in Bussum.

It was a glorious moment — to finally have a Steinway Grand Piano in my home. The Steinway was not from Hamburg but from New York. Made in 1909. All 188 CM of it. Model A. Ivory keys. One celebrated concert pianist, Dutch winner of the Liszt Piano Competition who commuted between Vienna and Utrecht, remarked that it was a Rachmaninoff piano for it had that romantic sound.

Here’s how the Steinway sounds: Intermezzo by Allan Segall, performed by Anne Ku, recorded by Robert Bekkers.

I held a Steinway Warming party for my piano friends. With the upright piano, four pianists could play on both pianos. We tried all sorts of duets.

Once I got accustomed to being the proud owner of a Steinway, it was time to let go of my Gerhard Adam, a German mahogany grand piano from the 1920’s which I left behind in London. I wrote a decision making guide to buying a second-hand piano to help sell that piano online. Once again I walked down my memory lane of buying a piano. I wrote an Adieu which used all 88 keys on the piano, a way for me to say goodbye thru the new owner I did not meet.

Here is a recording of my playing on my Steinway. Adieu to a Piano by Anne Ku

Steinway Grand Model A 188cm, 1909 New York, before recording session
Steinway Grand Model A 188cm, 1909 New York, before recording session

In summer 2006, the Steinway moved with me to Utrecht. We launched the Monument House Concert Series with a violin and guitar concert by Duo 46. That December we chose the theme Piano as Orchestra, featuring several concertos (harp, euphonium, guitar). The following year we combined food with music in Chamber Music Tapas Style. Every year we committed to organizing two house concerts. Often we had several mini concerts, including a kitchen concert, garden concert, impromptu concert. Each time we became more adventurous and more professional. We outsourced food and wine to professional chefs and wine sommeliers. We included art exhibitions.

On my last trip back to the Netherlands, I felt compelled to host two concerts back to back. Despite being time-challenged with only 2.5 months to sort out my things, I felt it was important to organize these concerts for two American pianists on their way to the Italian alps. Why? Maybe instinctively I knew it was the last time my grand piano would be heard in a concert setting. Sure enough, 2nd July 2011 became the last house concert.

And the last recordings were that of piano duets I had collected from a Call for Scores from Hawaii to Holland. Here’s Brendan Kinsella and I playing my late composition teacher Henk Alkema’s piece.

APPEAL:

This Steinway Grand, made in New York in 1909, model A – 188 cm – needs a home. SALE. RENT. or LOAN.

Steinway for Sale with new photos and sound clips.

Interested parties please use the LEAVE A REPLY field below.

Steinway Grand at the Monument House, Utrecht
Steinway Grand at the Monument House, Utrecht