How to know where you shouldn’t buy a piano

What kind of lonely are you?

I was jogging around the neighbourhood and passed by a piano store. The driveway was uneven and the front of the building with the sign didn’t have a door, so I jogged around the building to find the actual door. The thing about piano stores is that the service you get depends on how rich you look.

So I looked like a sweaty homeless puppy and none of the salespeople at their desks bothered me.

They sold second hand pianos and I walked around playing octaves.

Most of the pianos in the showroom were out of tune.

When I found a piano I tolerated, I sat down to play bits of Chopin. I want to play enough grand pianos to develop a taste so when I find one that’s right, I will just know it.

While I am playing, I hear, “Can I help you?”

She cut me off during a passionate monologue.

She is a shorter woman in her fifties with long grey hair, smiling, like a villain.

I want to keep playing. I can’t get kicked out. I say, “I’m looking for a baby grand piano.”

She asks a few questions to make sure I’m serious.

“Do second hand pianos need to be tuned more often than new pianos?” I say.

“No,” she says. “They shouldn’t need extra tuning.”

“How come most of these are out of tune?” I say.

“Are they? Sometimes they just come in and we have to tune them a few times.”

“That one was really out of tune,” I say, pointing to the piano on the left.

She plays some triads. A man walks by wearing a satchel.

The salesperson says to him, “She says this one is out of tune.”

They both play.

“It is a little out of tune.”

“Maybe she just has sensitive ears,” the salesperson says.

I am never buying a piano there.

But I stay to play. I play every piano again, while she is watching me move up the rows, and I find keys that are so bad, that once in a while, someone across the room shouts, “Thanks for finding that!”

Your instrument shapes the way you practice. I would be a master at the grand piano if I had a grand piano.

I need to make enough money to buy a house, which will then hold my grand piano, because it would be too loud for an apartment.

But then I do the math on houses: I will realistically make enough money to buy a house in Vancouver that isn’t a hole in the dirt when I’m 100.

I say to Pan, “I can’t ever afford to live in Vancouver or even Squamish or the islands.”

“It’s expensive. But that’s not today’s problem,” Pan says.

My editor emails me, “You could rent a piano for $300/month.”

But it’s loud. I don’t think my neighbours would like it.

I am a bag full of excuses.

I recently recorded this Interstellar soundtrack on my digital piano. Let me know how you like the sound compared to an acoustic instrument.

2 Comments


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2 Comments

  • Reply KrakenOverlord August 13, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    Who is Pan?

    • Reply Grace Lam August 14, 2019 at 5:24 pm

      That’s a great question! I asked Pan to comment, but he declined. I should write a definitive article about him. But here is a quick writeup on Pan – it is also kind of outdated – https://artiden.com/people/

    What do you think?

    2 Comments