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I am waiting for The Piano Tuner or somebody like him to soon show in order to tune my piano. About a week ago I got an email reminder it was time to do so. I had two emotional reactions to the header “Time to tune your piano!”: the first one was to wonder hadn’t we just done this and the second was to make to recall of when I last played. Alas, Babylon it has been a year since the last tune up and it was probably then when I last touched the thing.
I have is a four-legged spinet. The Piano Tuner tells me it is a 1937 production of a company that no longer exists (Mason & Hamlin). * He tells me my piano is still in good shape. It was originally my grandmother’s; I inherited it in the 80s after her death and I’ve had it ever since.
He seems excited to touch and tune its faded yellow ivory keys given its antiquity and rarity. All I get out of it these days is guilt in E-flat. I started playing the piano perhaps when I was six. At some point in my life I was fairly good and I enjoyed playing. Over the decades I played less and less and after 2005 when we moved to Arizona I’ve hardly touched it. Whenever I lay eyes on it I feel I should either get back to it or find some home for it. Both thoughts elicit guilt and inaction.
Pianos are antithetical to todays’ tech-driven society. Perfecting an instrument requires time and lots of it at least for me. At the end of countless hours of practice, what do I get? : the fair at best ability to play a piece that my iPhone could produce immediately and play so much better.
My piano playing is a classic example of the ‘sunk cost’ fallacy: I feel obliged to continue on the grounds I spent so much time doing so. It feels bad to conclude I don’t want to really play anymore. I better decide soon for there is the baby grand piano of my mother to consider. When she moves or dies you bet your Bach’s booty I’m going to get it. I have room for it but do I want another huge white elephant taken more from guilt than desire?
The Piano Tuner will spend 1-2 hours at his craft. At the end he will conclude it sounds marvelous and it is all ready for me. Let’s see what happens between now and a year hence when I get next year’s reminder email.


*Someday I should look up their history;  after 50 years of looking at their signature while playing I don’t know who they were or what happened to them.

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May 2019

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018