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You know that American Express “Priceless” ad campaign that starts with a someone using their card to buy all sorts of expensive stuff and ends with someone holding hands?   Or, how about the commercial that shows a mom and dad proudly watching their daughter clunk out a simple recital piece and then becoming ecstatic when the stage erupts in fireworks that they paid for?    I believe the message in either of those is completely relevant to the process of taking piano lessons.

I can’t begin to express my admiration and respect for the wonderful parents who arrange for their progeny to study the piano or any other musical instrument.

The first obstacle is the the expense of acquiring and maintaining a piano.  Even if a family‘s lucky enough to inherit Aunt Tillie’s sacrosanct parlor model, it’s so much trouble to have it moved that people will give it away to avoid the burden.  The daunting project needs to be undertaken by special piano movers, who are expensive, but not as expensive as a damaged instrument.   Regular movers will cry and whine when they see a piano, and even piano moving experts will moan if they have to negotiate stairs.  Still, with professional handling, the piano will arrive intact.  After that, the beast must be tuned!  Pianos should ALWAYS be tuned after moving, and at least once a year for regular maintenance.


Once all that’s taken care of, the conscientious parents
will have to find a piano teacher and pay for lessons.  But that’s the least of their worries.  The real test of intestinal fortitude comes when they need  to constantly implement and reinforce practice and lesson routines with children, who are, after all, children and would rather do all the lovely things that children adore when not facing school, homework,  extracurricular activities, or household chores.

Nevertheless, arduous as all of this sounds, it is completely worth it!  And it’s worth it to persist in spite of many obstacles and juvenile resistance.  There’s abundant scientific and educational research documenting the benefits of music lessons, easily found by Googling, binging, or whatever, but, I’d like to make an analogy.  I think almost everyone is familiar with the Led Zeppelin tune “Stairway to Heaven.”  It’s on all the top rock songs of all time lists, and most people know the opening lyrics:

There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold

And she’s buying a stairway to heaven

When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed

With a word she can get what she came for

Ooh, ooh, and she’s buying a stairway to heaven.

Maybe I thought of that song because expense of piano lessons.  Or maybe it was because I learned about it from a former rather brilliant teenage boy student who barely removed his ear buds for the business end of the lesson. (I, myself, am a rock and roll idiot; it’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just that I never know who sings what, or most of the lyrics…)  Regardless, something made me think of that song, which reminded me of this:

I would like to compare that musical stairway to learning how to make your own music, and the escalator to all the stuff in the modern world for accessing music passively.  It’s wonderful, in a way, because you can find anything you want to hear, or even see, instantly.  But it’s not the same as being able to make and play it yourself.  And I believe that the remarkable parents who arrange for their children to take lessons know the difference between the glittery stuff and real gold.  I’ll leave you to your own conclusions about heaven.