So I Hope My New Neighbors Like Bach

Detail on Wall/Ceiling

My new apartment is the front half of the second floor of a huge old house off East Avenue. My entrance is on the bottom floor, and I have the house’s main staircase, which has three landings and four turns and a giant stained glass window. The stairway and big landing at the top of the stairs have all this fancypants detail work on the walls and ceiling (see above). It’s all very pretty.

Obviously, I insisted on dragging my piano up all those pretty stairs.

People were all, “Maybe you could just get an electric piano.”

My response?

“I’m hiring movers.”

Still, moving the piano was the most stressful part of the move. When the guys got it up here, one of them said, “Now you’re keeping this here forever, right? Like when you move out, you’re just going to leave this thing, right?”

I just smiled in a way I hope came across as enigmatic.

The thing is that I play my piano almost entirely for me, as in, I am extremely uncomfortable playing for other people, even my teacher, Glenn, who is never anything but patient and kind about whatever I’m playing and how long it takes me to learn it. The only people I’m relaxed playing around are Maxwell and Lucas. When I try to play for anyone else, I get so nervous that my hands shake, and I totally forget what I’m doing, and I just can’t calm down.

And now I’m pretty much playing for other people, total strangers, every single time I play.

I think the people who live in the back of the house can’t hear me. The woman who lives downstairs (the owner of the house) can probably hear me, but she knew she was signing up for this, and also she’s seldom home. It’s my upstairs neighbors who can hear me. I know this because I met one of them in the driveway one day, and after we introduced ourselves I said, “I play piano. I hope it doesn’t disturb you.”

And he said, “I know! We can hear it! It’s beautiful!”

Which is such a gracious and kind thing to say, and he seemed genuine about it, but now every time I sit down and play, all I can think about is how Shahab upstairs can hear me.

This is, I believe, perhaps good for my character. The same way it is perhaps good for everyone else’s character to listen to a little Bach and Erik Satie every day.

Or something.


  1. Carl S.
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Enjoy your new apartment, Adrienne!
    I’m sure your neighbors will enjoy getting to know you as much as the readers of WATAT have.

    Happy New Year, and Mazal Tov!

  2. momster
    Posted December 30, 2012 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Glad to hear you are playing your piano!

  3. Posted December 30, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    I didn’t realize you play piano! I can totally understand not being comfortable playing for other people. I seem to be most comfortable playing violin when surrounded by a wealth of other musicians, playing at the same time. Because of this, I have friends, like Sabrina, whom I’ve known since 1996, who have never heard me play before. I’m glad you have neighbors who listen.

  4. Posted December 30, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    OH MY GOD! I didn’t realize all this here about the fancypants details of your apartment, and I totally wish I could invite myself over and pop in to see it in person. And OH MY GOD you know how super serious bad I want a piano, and now I want one even more. I know you wouldn’t play in front of me, but I’d like to be the neighbor who hears it. Also, I love your neighbors for saying that. Also, just last night I said, “maybe I SHOULD just get a piano-like keyboard till we finally move and have space for a real piano,” though I hated saying it, and this post reminds me I should hold out for the real thing. Even if I have to wait and wait.

    (The only reason I said it is ’cause I’m not the only one who wants to learn — Ada seems to have a real interest in it, and I feel like I’m wasting a good opportunity here, but I really want to hold out for the real thing.)

  5. adrienne
    Posted December 30, 2012 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Carl! Happy new year to you, too! I hope your 2013 is full of excellent things.

    Thanks, Momster.

    Julia, My teacher Glenn tells me that it’s comforting to play with other people, but this seems terrifying to me, and so I haven’t tried it. I should clarify, too, that I’ve only been playing regularly for a few years, so I’m just a beginner.

    Jules, Anytime you want to invite yourself over, you are completely welcome, and I will even play for you. Perhaps really badly, but I’ll do it.

    I really, really contemplated getting an electric piano. Glenn assures me there are very nice ones available. I am attached to this one for right now, though. We’ll see what the future brings.

  6. Posted December 30, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    All of that molding and stuff makes me a little sniffly for my flat on Lyndoch Crescent. Oh, how I wiiiiiiiish you could have seen it; this gracious old Georgian building (with nary a square room, the entire block was a crescent, so ALL of our front walls were curved, and the rest of the flats-built-from-four-story-townhouses followed suit) with iron bannisters all detailed with fol-de-rols and Fleur-de-lys and lovely pressed tin or whatever ceilings… even the chiropractor’s office looked like that. So much beauty, and people there are just *shrug* used to it.

    Look up often.
    And play loudly.

  7. adrienne
    Posted December 30, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    I will, Tanita, and I wish I could have seen that flat, too.

  8. Posted December 30, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    YAY PIANO! That is awesome!

  9. adrienne
    Posted December 31, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    I managed to play for about 20 minutes yesterday without thinking about how anyone could hear me, a minor miracle.

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