The Quest

I have a story. About a month ago, something changed in my piano playing. Thus far, I’ve only been practicing my etudes on a digital piano. And, I’ve now hit a wall with it. There’s only so much I can do with it. It felt like the time had come to get my own instrument. And here’s where my journey begins.

I have never actually owned my own piano, so this is huge deal to me. I visited piano stores with no real idea of what I wanted and little knowledge of how the piano industry works. For my first visit I left it all to my fingers and ears to discern which piano would be right for me. Over the course of playing various kinds of pianos, I realised I preferred the action of grand pianos (the gravity-based action) to the action of uprights (the spring-based action).

In one of the stores I visited, I played on various grands and uprights and didn’t feel quite satisfied with any of them. And then the salesperson there beckoned me over to a second room. He unlocked the large glass doors and switched on the lights. It was filled with grand pianos, sleek and black. I had never heard of the company before. I sat down to play the smallest of them – getting a 9 ft. grand into my apartment would take a miracle!

They were certainly of a different class but one of them was unfortunately placed in the display window, surrounded by glass. I tried to play it but my ears stung from the reflected high notes. And then, the manager arrived and they agreed to move the piano out into the room. I had already warmed up on all the other pianos and I decided to play my Chopin Etude (op. 10 no.9) for the nth time. How different could it be?

And then, my world changed. The room was filled with music and even though I had heard this etude practically in my dreams now, it sounded fresh and beautiful. The world around me literally disappeared and the notes flowed naturally. It was just me and the piano. The more I played, the better it got. I found myself feeling inspired by the instrument. I was already wishing I could play more, learn more and hear all of those pieces on this piano. There was no doubt that if I had this piano, I would be on it every hour of every day that I possibly could.

And then ofcourse comes the tough part – it is expensive. It’s not completely out of reach but it is certainly a stretch for me. I’m young and I’m certainly not made of money, but if I were to spend my precious money I would rather it go to something that I would have for the rest of my life. That’s just how I am.

Long story short I walked away that day with my head swimming with thoughts. Was this piano doable? Should I consider moving before I buy it? Perhaps my apartment isn’t good enough for it? Should I get a place instead? It was quite overwhelming. In the last month I’ve learnt a lot about the piano industry, the brands, the ups and downs of buying a place (which can be incredibly scary mind you), how banks work….and a host of other things. It’s been a real rollercoaster.

That brings us to now. I’ve more or less decided that one-step-at-a-time is good thing! Piano first, real estate market later. It’s not over yet though. I’ve spent the last month doing everything humanely possible to see if I can afford the piano or not. And it seems promising thus far. It’s reassuring to know that by all accounts buying the best instrument you can afford makes sense from an investment point of view… but the part that is most scary to me is the emotional aspect.

Some of the folks on the piano forums have described the journey as finding your best friend. And they’re right – it’s an incredibly emotional journey to find the instrument that will be your voice for what might be the rest of your life. It’s scary, exciting, and yes….very very stressful. I worry bout making such a huge purchase…I worry if the climate will be alright for the piano…and I worry about acoustics. But at the end of the day, I know that I’ll be playing the piano…and when I do I won’t be thinking of whether I’m on the East Coast or not, I won’t be looking at the humidity gauge, and I won’t be wondering about the physics of soundproofing.

It will just be me and the piano. I hear back from the bank today – wish me luck!

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