Tuesday, December 6, 2022
Dec. 6, 2022

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Check It Out: Show your appreciation for pianos, music

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I feel the need to tickle the ivories. Why is that? Because September is National Piano Month, and I’m all keyed up. Well, I like to think I’m ready to play a few scales and simple melodies on the ol’ spinet, but in truth, I haven’t played in a very long time. Growing up, we always had a piano to play (generously purchased by my grandmother), and in spite of a very short-lived run of piano lessons when I was in third grade, I continued to plink my way through a collection of sheet music and songbooks acquired by my mom and sister. I definitely wasn’t an accomplished piano player, but I truly enjoyed spending time practicing on the family Wurlitzer.

Fast forward several decades, and you will find me still “plinking” away on the keys, but this time on a second-hand Wurlitzer purchased after my husband and I bought our first house. Public performance was out of the question, but I didn’t care: sitting down at the piano was a purely personal experience, missed notes and all. Then life happens, including a fairly lengthy recovery and therapy for a dislocated finger, and my Wurlitzer fell silent. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get back into the groove piano-wise, but I’m willing to give it a Wurl — that is, a whirl — someday soon.

If you have always wanted to play the piano, in-person lessons can’t be beat, but books and videos just might help you get started, and the library can assist you. Or perhaps you have an appreciation for pianists but no desire to become one yourself. No worries, the library has several memoirs by and biographies about pianists.

The power of music is undeniable. According to Confucius, “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.” Agreed.

  • “Alfred’s Basic Adult Theory Piano Book, Level One” by Willard A. Palmer.
  • “How to Play Piano” [DVD] published by The Teaching Company.
  • “Moscow Nights: The Van Cliburn Story — How One Man and His Piano Transformed the Cold War” by Nigel Cliff.
  • “The Pianist from Syria: A Memoir” by Aeham Ahmad.
  • “Piano Essentials: Scales, Chords, Arpeggios, and Cadences for the Contemporary Pianist” by Ross Ramsay.
  • “Playing the Piano for Pleasure: The Classic Guide to Improving Skills Through Practice and Discipline” by Charles Cooks.
  • “Sonata: A Memoir of Pain and the Piano” by Andrea Avery.

Jan Johnston is the collection development coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Libraries. Email her at readingforfun@fvrl.org.

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