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Piano Lessons: Music, Love, and True Adventures Paperback – Mar 10 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Delta; Reprint edition (March 10 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385318219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385318211
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.5 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #58,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

The difference between the piano lessons Noah Adams took and the ones most of us took was that he was 51, not 7, and -- lucky Noah -- his mother didn't make him practice. This is not only a delightful account of his twelve-month nose-to-the-grindstone attempt to learn to play the $11,000 Steinway he bought on a whim, but also the story of his many-year process of falling in love with music and its history. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

"It is my dream, when I touch the keys, to release the notes. It is music waiting there," writes Adams in this delightful recreation of the year he recently spent trying to learn to play the piano and, most specifically, trying to master Robert Schumann's Traumerei. The experience may have been frustrating for the author, but he is such an unself-conscious raconteur that he catches the reader's sympathy and amusement at his befuddlement as to why he, a 51-year-old, would be so foolhardy as to suddenly spend $11,375 for an instrument he neither knows how to play nor, given the pressures of his job as host of NPR's All Things Considered, has time to practice. Figuring that he has only 20 minutes a day to devote to activities unrelated to his work, he sets out to become a pianist, first studying with a computer program, then a sight-reading system on tapes and finally, in the most captivating episode here, at a 10-day adult music school in Vermont run by the family of the saleswoman who sold him his Steinway. Adams interrupts his practice sessions throughout the book to reminisce about pianists he admires, educate us about keyboard instruments, tell us about his domestic life with his wife, Neenah, and about his job and related travels. At year's end he feels confident enough to play the Schumann for his wife as a Christmas present. A piece Horowitz could play in two minutes and 32 seconds Adams needs 20 minutes to complete. No matter, for his performance brings his audience of readers to its feet with shouts of "Bravo!"
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

By Bron Mitchell on April 28 2002
Format: Paperback
I am confused and disappointed by other reviews of this book that claim Noah Adams went about learning the piano all wrong. Readers who were hoping for hints about practice and technique have missed out on a thoroughly good read, all because of their misguided approach to this wonderful story of one man's musical quest. This is not a "how to" book, and nor should it be.
What makes this book such a treasure is the exact same thing as what one reviewer callously calls "banal fluff": talking about his wife, his love for a piece of music that he longs to play but fears he can't, his experiences of meeting and talking with other musicians, his knowledge of pianos and of music in general, and his passion and appreciation for music of many styles. The process of learning a musical instrument is a journey, and Noah tells us of his. From the first chapter, when he talks of the secret desire he has held for years to buy a piano, to the last chord of Schumann's 'Träumerei' which he plays as a Christmas present for his wife, this book entranced me with the joys and the struggles of learning to play an instrument. Yes, he may have got there faster if he'd spent more time practicing and less time procrastinating, but chances are the results would have been far less rewarding, and the book would certainly have been far less interesting.
Ultimately, if you genuinely have a passion for music, there is no right or wrong way to go about learning. Noah did it this way, and he got there in the end. Who are we to criticise?
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Format: Paperback
Noah Adams, in his book Piano Lessons, presents an honest, straight forward guide on achieving one's goal in middle age. This is not a just a book about piano lessons, but more a story about becoming who we really want to be, or even more, who we really are. Mr. Adams tells the truth about procrastination and about dedication, those traits that tend to haunt us through our middle years. Have we really achieved what we've wanted out of life? And what can we do if something is missing?
One thing Noah Adams did was keep a record of his goal setting and the achievement of that goal. By writing the book in the form of a journal, the reader is able to watch his progress as he sets out to learn to play the piano. He starts big, with the investment of an $11,000 Steinway and the rest is history. He stumbles through a Miracle Piano Teaching System on the computer ($259.95), various piano technique books, a music camp and finally some honest to goodness piano lessons. The book ends with Mr Adams presenting his wife, Neenah, with a concert for Christmas, complete with tuxedo, brass candlesticks, candles and the favorite pieces he has longed to play for many years.
This might sound overly sentimental, but to many of us who have procrastinated all of our lives in the music field, Piano Lessons is true inspiration. Mr Adams would be pleased to know that as soon as I finished the book, I perused the internet and ordered $75 worth of music books ("Hooked on Easy Classics"). I have built the fire in the little guest house where my inherited piano(my mother's) has rested for five years virtually untouched. I am going to warm up the strings and start playing.
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By blueswork on Dec 8 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is amusing and pleasant. It has nice anecdotes, musical information, names are dropped and a good inspirational message about going after a midlife dream. The 2 stars are for that. Have time on a bus, train or plane? Bring this along its not a bad read. But if you already play the piano and are at home you're better off practicing. If you don't play and want to, well what are you waiting for? Get the inpsiration from the music you love and get a good teacher.
As someone else wrote, it's hilarious that Noah would spend $11 grand on a piano and not get a good teacher. I mean with all his connections? If you are thinking of starting, a good teacher is well worth the money, it will get you going faster and you will feel more committed. Spend less on the piano if you have to. A lot of Noah's frustrations in learning could have been made easier with a teacher, but I guess then he wouldn't have written this book. He would have been too busy practicing. But maybe his real midlife dream was this book?
When all is said and done, if someone other than a person with a bit of celebrity status, such as Noah, had written this book who would care? You might get better inspiration by learning about the music you love and following your own path.
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Format: Paperback
The irony of "Piano Lessons" is that it's not about taking piano lessons at all, at least not weekly piano lessons with a teacher, and so you might read this book as a primer on how NOT to learn to play the piano.
That said, I enjoyed this book and found it to be a lovely meditation on the beauty of the piano and the difficulty of fitting an amateur passion into a busy, career-laden schedule. I thought to myself that if a fine writer and talented journalist such as Adams could take such a weird approach to learning to play - erratically using music software and turning his back on his lovely new Steinway! -- then I shouldn't be afraid to try. It's been a year since I read "Piano Lessons," and I now own a piano, am six months into weekly piano lessons and am at the skill level where I could play "Traumeri" (although I haven't tried to do so). "Piano Lessons" helped kick-start my own musical adventure.
How's it going with you, Noah?
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