Life is full of glorious surprises. I never imagined that I would ever own a grand piano of any kind. I have been content to play them at music venues and showrooms. They are notoriously expensive and justifiably so. Depending on the brand and condition, one would typically pay the same amount of money that you would for a brand new car. They are not cheap and certainly qualify as a long-term investment.
Well, rewind my life to almost two months ago, a friend of ours who works at the arts center in a nearby town called and told us that a local woman was offering to donate a grand piano to them. Perhaps they did not need one (!!!!!!!) because they declined her generous offer. Our friend was calling because he wanted to know if I MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN HAVING IT (!!!!!!).
I was bewildered while standing in our kitchen as I heard this.
A grand piano? Me? Whaaaaaaat?
I obtained the woman’s contact information, and we arranged a meeting a few days later. I arrived at her house, which sat high up on a hill. It had a view of gently rolling hills that people would pay thousands of dollars to see every day as part of their home. They rolled gracefully into a beckoning horizon. I had to pause and stare at it before I got out of my car.
She was incredibly charming when she first greeted me and ushered me into a house that was tailor-made for her and her husband. It was less of a house and more of a rustic cabin castle. It was somebody’s dream home. I walked into a living room that had a wall of windows that looked out into their stunning hilltop view.
There was so much to take in, but my eyes hunted for the object of my desire. I did not need to look far because it stood in the far corner of the room that stood opposite from the entryway. Prior to this, I had no idea what it looked like or even sounded like outside of knowing that it was a grand piano. To my surprise, it was a baby grand. A gorgeous and finely built baby grand piano.
I sat down at the piano bench and carried out my usual introduction whenever I meet a new piano. It is my equivalent of a friendly, gentle, and warm handshake. I slowly press down on one key on the treble side, usually an A or an E, and then something on the bass clef (whichever key calls to me I guess). The sound I receive from each key almost always tells me everything I need to know about the piano. My ears hear its timbre and tonal quality immediately. I have played enough pianos in my life to discern its character through this simple interaction. Pianos do not need to say much to tell you all that you need to know. You just have to listen.
From there, I might play a simple mid-tempo number or two just to get acquainted. This is not an exchange for showing off with a bombastic piece. To be overbearing is to be rude. Pianos are shy creatures.
What I heard when I met this piano was a rich tone buried deep underneath years of neglect. I knew instantly that it was not a lost cause, as many neglected pianos tend to become. With a little bit of work, I knew that this could be a fine instrument.
The offer for me to have the piano free of charge was made upon my conversation with the owner. I accepted the offer, and I walked out of that rustic castle as the new owner of a baby grand piano.
A month later and with some logistical maneuvering, I enlisted the help of seven strong friends (one of whom was experienced in moving pianos). On a cold and rainy fall afternoon, we managed to transport the piano on a big, hefty truck a few miles away to my home. It had a damaged leg that was repaired the next day, and after giving it a few weeks to settle into its new environment (and to finish out a hectic semester at university), it had its first official tuning by our neighborhood piano tuner this last week.
I have played it a lot ever since. It still needs some work, but at this point, it makes a big and full sound across the board. This piano is coming back to life. It will not be neglected again, certainly not by me.
I love this piano. I love it very much.
Previous Post: I Am Not White, and I Have Less Power