Piano Lessons: Music, Love, and True Adventures Paperback – Mar 10 1997
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
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?
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.
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.
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?
Most recent customer reviews
Since I'm in my forties and just bought a digital piano to learn and play music for the first time in my life, I thought it would be interesting to read this book for some tips and... Read morePublished on July 11 2003 by kyara
An awful book. A preening book. A silly & self-satisfied book.
Adams spends most of it avoiding his piano; attending twee
little piano workshops, fussing with some... Read more
I was interested in reading the book becasue I recently returned to playing the piano after 30 years and I thought it would be fun to read someone else's experience on the trials... Read morePublished on Nov. 22 2002 by West Coast Piano Player
Noah Adams has captured the soul of learning to play the piano, and in so doing has answered his own question: Why does a fifty-one-year-old man suddenly decide he has to have a... Read morePublished on March 31 2002 by Ann Haley
mr. adams book was a sad disappointment to this adult beginner piano player. his chapters follow the calendar year beginning with the purchase of an expensive piano. Read morePublished on Feb. 26 2002 by Virginia L. Butterworth
Like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance this book isn't as much about Piano Lessons as it is a life lived during a period of the author's learning music as an adult. Read morePublished on Dec 14 2001 by Conuschiro
What a wonderful, uplifting, book! Having begun playing the piano again after nearly 40 years away from it, I found myself enjoying Noah Adams descriptions of his joys and... Read morePublished on Nov. 4 2001 by Lucinda Burr
This book is about Noah Adams' decision to purchase a Steinway and learn to play. This is not a how-to book, but it will provide inspiration to the adult beginner, and it will... Read morePublished on June 21 2001 by Carol C.