During hurricane Sandy, I tweeted (yes, I have a Twitter account; can you believe it?) about how wonderful it is that pianos still work when the power is out. Turns out that while I was thinking it, one In the Hands listener was living it. I will let him tell his story in his own words:
Since we last emailed…. we were hit with Hurricane Sandy. (I live in Jersey City NJ just outside of NYC). If you followed the news… we were basically in a war zone out here without power, heat, phone, internet for a week… with miliatary coming in and out with trucks, water and food. We have two cats who basically became our personal heaters at night.
It was scary and confusing.. but I discovered that I still had my piano and music as a solace. Not only for myself… but those around me. I actually invited the neighbors over to an impromtu concert… ready or not.. it was my chance to help others feel better who had no radios or TV. It is one of those understudy moments… “OK … you’re on!” You spend all your time practicing and now is your chance to share that music… even as an amateur. There we were, in the dark.. and it was a true test to see how much music was inside me… without sheet music. That was even scarier than the fact that the power was out.
It is amazing that no matter what music you play on the piano.. your audiences gobble it up. They are not as concerned (as we are) with how difficult or “easy” that music is - but only that you express something emotionally. I played Chopin’s prelude in E min being inspired by your podcast - and everyone was blown away. Being perfect is not what counts… but expressing something that the listener can relate to.
It is a gentle reminder to me we play the piano for ourselves… but mostly because we are there to lift the spirit of others around us. Please encourage all of you listeners not to sit alone with their music but to share it with small concerts, performances, or just knock on a neighbor’s door and say,” Hey, come listen to this.” Music brings us together. ( It is the reason I am emailing you because of your beautiful music and inspiration.) I find it is basically an expression of Love - Love lost, Love found, Love around us.
Three things in life motivate us - Fear, Guilt and Love. that’s it. Take a listen to Chopin or Beethoven and they use all of that. Please remind every pianist (or musician) that you know… you always have your music. When things get their darkest… no one can take the music that lives within us. Then share that music every chance you can. You just might make a difference in someone’s life.
I used to feel guilty that I wasn’t playing professionally with all the money spent on lessons. It is your podcasts that showed me that you don’t have to be a professional pianist to make amazing music. Thank you for doing what you do, Paul!
Jersey City, NJ