Francis Meyrick

Piano Lessons

Posted on November 22, 2007

(I originally wrote this tongue-in-cheek story for “Writer’s Cafe “, deliberately full of all sorts of technical goblins, as a protest against the beatings I saw regularly being dished out by some remarkably haughty and unfeeling “popular ” writers, who sat in contemptuous judgment of struggling artists; it fell on deaf ears, and I eventually left, to set up our own tiny little corner of Cyberspace… We may be small, but we’re at peace…)


When I was a young teenager, we had a piano in the house.
I used to plink out little tunes I taught myself. Two fingers. I liked that piano.
I liked the sound it made. Guess what. It made better sounds if you played it better…

If you are a serious literary critic, by now, I hope you’re getting a bit annoyed.
I can just hear your mind:
Tsk! Tsk!… “I liked the sound it made. ” “It made better sounds if you played it better… ” What kind of prose is this? A young teenager? Have you ever heard of an OLD teenager???
What kind of prose is this?? Full of mistakes!!! Of course it makes sound! It’s a piano! Get on with the story! “

My parents, meaning well, hired a piano teacher.
He wasn’t cheap. He would actually come to the house. And teach me. This went on for a couple of years. I got to be pretty good. Not a Tchaikovsky player, or Rachmaninoff. But still a pretty good piano player.
Now ask me a question: when did I last play the piano?
Answer: when I was a teenager.
The teacher was very skilled. But I don’t ever remember him smile. Not once. He never laughed. He was a joyless soul. What I do remember is that we would practice and practice and practice. And when at last, at last, I would play the whole tune without a single mistake…. he’d turn the page. And we’d move on to the next piece, which was always a little bit harder.
Some pieces were fun to play. Because they were fun, I’d practice a lot. Then I got good. But then, next lesson, he’d just turn the page to a horrible one.
So what was the point….?

Well, time went by, and I grew to slowly hate the sound of his car coming.
I grew to hate the sound of the door bell ringing. And, surprise, surprise, I grew to hate that damn awful stupid f…ing piano!

Tsk! Tsk! “I liked the sound it made. ” “It made better sounds if you played it better… ” What kind of nonsense prose is this?
Of course it makes sound! It’s a piano! Get on with the story! “

And so, my dear literary reviewer, when I read you blasting other people’s work, having failed to find one single good and noteworthy merit, then I want to say to you:

“There’s sound, and then, there’s sound. “
They are not the same.
Happy sound. Sad sound.
Sound you love. Sound you hate.
Don’t… kill.. the… sound!

Photo by Moriza

Don’t kill people’s love to write. Don’t hurt their need for self expression. Just because somebody’s poetry or fiction is simple, and doesn’t appeal to your erudite taste, doesn’t mean that their creative efforts are to be ridiculed. BEHIND those “simple ” words may rest very complex personalities, amazing life experiences, and truly intense emotional and spiritual sensitivity.

The “Harbor ” is not the place to be if you want rave reviews, be recognized amongst your peers for “most viewed “, “Most friends “, “Most STARS “….
The “Harbor ” is not the place for you if you want public acclaim, as a step on the road towards becoming a widely famous, published author…

The “Harbor ” IS the place for you if you enjoy the music.
Even the simple tunes.

The ones people write and play with two fingers…


Last edited by Francis Meyrick on March 6, 2011, 10:57 am

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5 responses to “Piano Lessons”

  1. I first see this story on Writers Cafe. Now I remember you. I remember I like this story then. And now. It is a parable. You compare the piano and writing. The last line is very strong? But I understand your feelings. I feel too we should accept criticism, but criticism with kindness is better.
    Thank you.

  2. You make a strong point through this…story. Having been on Writers Cafe myself, I witnessed some of this, and I like how you address those issues here. What I like more, is how I have seen you act out this message constantly on the Harbor through your kindness toward, and interest in, others. Keep inspiring.

  3. Ta, Alister.
    I’ve been concerned to get the software side working good. On Writers Haven, my first attempt, we had a different coder. Lot of promises, but no results. That was a bit embarrassing for me. I felt we got an initial wave of support and enthusiasm, but then we sort of fluffed it because the software promises never were fulfilled.
    This time around, coder #2, much better job altogether. I thought we’d just quietly work away at it, and get it all working. I’m rather pleased with it all. Not perfect, but pretty good.
    I’ve got a few more issues I need to work on, and then we’ll quietly see about inviting more folks. Do you reckon the site is reasonably user friendly and intuitive to use? I think I’ve covered most things in the "FAQ" (frequently asked questions) section on the opening page.
    The other thing that would be nice, is if I could incorporate the work on Writers Haven on to this site. Not quite sure how to do that. But that would be good.


  4. Hmmm…Technology goes far over my head more often than not. A lot of things do, actually…but that’s unrelated.

    I do "reckon the site is reasonably user friendly and intuitive to use," though. I feel like, if I can figure it out…anybody else can. Nothing comes without a few questions and complications, but I can’t see any catastrophic reaction from quietly "inviting more folks."

    I do like that you parenthetically explained "FAQ" to me. It shows just how careful you are at making things understandable to a wide audience. Feeling like that proves my point, I will conclude.

    Thank you, Francis.


  5. Ouch. That one hit home. Now I know why I have owned a piano most of my life and can’t get past persistent "player’s block". Being a teacher myself, I wonder why music teachers don’t smile. Mine frowned a lot, and I still see it. But I do keep trying, when I’m not working on writing.

    Duncan "uncledunc"

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