A piano is for life
By Frances Wilson
If you have seen the John Lewis Christmas advert you will know that it features superstar singer-songwriter Elton John and recalls, in heart-warming and poignant scenes, his career from his first hesitant explorations at his grandmother’s piano as a little boy to international stardom. It’s touching and inspiring – the scene where his mother proudly watches him perform in a school concert, her eyes filled with tears, is one many of us can identify with.
Of course, the film isn’t really about Elton John at all. It’s about the joy of music, of exploring and playing music, and sharing it with others. The advert perfectly expresses the pleasure of music, the special, private time we experience when playing music, and the excitement of live performance. It’s no accident that the piano features strongly in this film. A piano is a highly accessible instrument, for child or adult. From the very first note, it is possible to create a lovely sound on the piano and it’s a relatively easy instrument to play for the beginner student. A musical experience is a wonderful gift at Christmas – I have had several enquiries from people who want to purchase piano lessons for their children or partner as a Christmas present – and as the John Lewis advert demonstrates, a piano is a really special, inspiring gift, and one that will gives hours and hours of enjoyment and personal fulfilment.
Buying a piano is a big decision and one that should not be undertaken lightly, but while it may feel like a large financial outlay, a piano is a fantastic investment. Unlike cars, pianos do not depreciate and a good quality, well-maintained instrument will retain it value and, more importantly, its sound, for years to come. Chosen with care and with the right advice, a piano will become a much-loved member of the family as well as a musical instrument, and will provide hours and hours of delight and diversion.
My first piano, an early 20th-century Challen upright, was not a Christmas present, but it was a gift from a family friend. It lived in the dining room of our home and I played it almost every day as a child and teenager, practising diligently to progress through all my grade exams. As well as the instrument on which I “leant to be a pianist”, the piano was an opportunity for escapism, to set the imagination free to make up stories, a place for fantasies and adventures.
As a piano teacher I have watched my students develop and progress as young pianists and share in their pleasure and satisfaction. As the co-founder of a popular London-based piano club, I see how much gratification members take from their piano playing and sharing their music with others. Learning and playing the piano (and indeed any musical instrument) has many benefits: it can improve concentration, develop and strengthen memory, and improve mental and physical co-ordination. It also offers a deep sense of personal achievement, self-fulfilment and, above all, enjoyment.
The pleasure of playing the piano and the joy of music isn’t just for Christmas – it will stay with you for life.
Frances Wilson is a pianist, piano teacher, writer and blogger on classical music and pianism as The Cross-Eyed Pianist
Two top resources for finding the piano that’s right for you:
-Pianist magazine’s 2019 Piano Buyer’s Guide, downloadable for free
-Inside the next issue of Pianist, out at the end of January, the magazine features a three-page article on the subject of buying a piano. Order your copy in advance.