19 Reasons I Hate the Piano
What!!! You ask.
What do you mean you hate the piano?
Didn’t you just write a book called “The Happiest Piano Teacher in Town?” And now you are writing a post called “19 reasons I hate the piano.”
Well, what can I say? Everybody has an off day, and today seems like one of these days for me. I think I am just on holiday music overload.
Warning: If you have no sense of humor, don’t read any further.
So, Here Are 19 Reasons I Hate the Piano.
Can you relate to any of them?
Come on…Be honest.
It’s a Never-ending Battle.
Day in and day out I have to practice.
Honestly, sometimes I just feel like binge-watching reruns of “Monster Quest.”
Use It or Lose It
Skip a few days or heaven-forbid weeks of practice and I’ll be sliding down the slippery slope into the valley of crappy playing.
That piece I nailed three weeks ago will be featuring memory slips and mistakes.
In my next life I want to be an artist, paint it and it’s done.
Actually, I did try that once. I took some art classes. I did pretty well.
Unfortunately, I did not practice and now I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler.
So much for that idea.
I Can’t Play Anything
It’s annoying to spend 65 million hours practicing and still feel like I can’t play anything half of the time.
Sometimes more than half the time.
Sometimes three-quarters of the time.
I Start Feeling Pretty Good About My Pianistic Abilities, and Then…
Then I show my student a video of Yuja Wang and she says,
“You can play like that, can’t you Ms. Doreen?’
“Uh – no, no,
The Piano Bench Spread
Sitting at the piano hour after hour – not good for my behind. Did you know violinists and wind players burn 150 calories per hour of practice? Drummers burn 250! Pianists a measly 50.
That means after an hour of practice I’ve only burned enough calories to enjoy 2 Oreo’s. Without a glass of milk.
Too Many Notes
Seriously, I envy my monophonic friends, playing sweet melodies while the accompanist fills in the background.
Or just playing gorgeous acapella music, like the Bach Cello Suites
I realize they have their own problems like intonation, bowing, and embouchure.
I know I am wrong to think they have it easy, but hey!
Once in awhile the grass just seems a little greener on their side of the fence.
My Left Hand
No matter how hard I work it, my left will never be as good as my right.
For this, I blame my teacher.
He said, “If you have a problem with your piece, check your left hand.”
Well, that was just a jinx. It damaged the self-esteem of my left hand forever!
Too Many Genres
Play the French horn and you know what you are doing. Play the piano and you can choose from classical, popular, and umpteen styles of Jazz.
Of course, if you want to feel really good about yourself you can play all of these styles with ease. Your fingers gliding across the keys like a goose glides over a glassy pond. You can play any piece, any time in any key.
With your eyes closed, and your hands tied behind your back.
I Can’t Take It With Me
I spent good money on my Kawai Baby Grand. Which I can enjoy hearing when I play it by myself in my living room.
This seems unfair. Other musicians get to take their prized instruments with them. What do I get?
I once complained about this to my teacher (the left-hand guy)
What did he say?
He yelled at me in his Italian accent. “This is the life! Our sacrifice! Why you complain?”
I get it. Unless my name is Elton John I have to take what I can get.
The Piano Usually Stinks
As a follow up to #7 I can’t tell you how many times I have shown up to a gig, concert, or wedding to discover the instrument waiting for me was grossly out of tune or just unplayable. Broken pedals, dead keys, dollies that don’t lock so the piano slides around.
Once I went to sub at a Catholic mass and the piano was locked.
No one knew where the key was.
Two minutes before mass I picked the lock with a bobby pin.
Another time I went to play a wedding at the Marriott Hotel I was excited to encounter a beautiful white 7’ Yamaha grand.
That was until I played it.
All I can say is thankfully the bride and groom were swept away by the romance and the guests must have been tone-deaf.
You are reading 19 Reasons I Hate the Piano
Other Musicians Are Annoying
In the interest of being p.c. I’ll qualify this. Not ALL other musicians are annoying.
If you are an accompanist like me, you know what I am talking about. Soloists expect us to be able to sight-read the horns off a bull, play anything, follow them anywhere and sit quietly in the background while they get all the attention. Annoying.
Then there are the choir directors. I have worked with some amazing choir directors. And I have worked with some who were not so great choir directors.
Giving out the music at the last minute, expecting me to fill in because they are stuck in traffic, being demanding, lecturing, throwing batons. Irritating.
They Expect Me to Play the Organ
My home church is Catholic.
Catholic music = the organ.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the organ it’s big, beautiful, and majestic. And yes, I can play it when I have to (largely thanks to the coupler) but I miss my sustain pedal.
Plus, I don’t want to buy special shoes and play notes with my feet.
Singers Always Want Me to Change the Key
Speaking of church music.
People who sing in church always seem to be unhappy with the key a particular song is written in.
So, they tell the piano player to change it.
Easy for them, right?
I once had to play for a lady who I knew had the exact same vocal range as I do. I prepared the song in a key I knew would be comfortable for her, the key of D.
Well, she didn’t like that key, or the next one,
or the next one.
After four or five key changes. I went back to the key of D.
Yep, she said it was perfect!
Church Music is Boring
Not the great church music like Bach, Handel, Mozart, Schubert, and Vaughan Williams. That music isn’t boring. Even the old hymns are full of musical possibilities.
Maybe this is just me, but a lot of the new music is just I IV V.
The words may be inspiring but musically just kind of blah.
It seems like I am always by myself.
It’s just not so easy to up and join an ensemble, community band, orchestra, or choir as a pianist. There’s usually only one and it’s a paid position.
Most of the time, I am stuck in the back somewhere. Apart from the others.
While they’re all chatting merrily and laughing it up.
I am behind a wall or a bunch of fake trees or something like that.
There Are Way Too Many Piano Players
The piano remains the number one most popular instrument.
There sure are a lot of players and a lot of good ones too! The competition is fierce and it’s hard to stand out.
Of course, there are more jobs for me than for bassoon players so I shouldn’t complain.
I Have to Play Music I Hate
I am an accompanist. I don’t usually have too much say in what I get to play. Once I had to play Paul Creston’s Alto Sax Sonata to accompany a student at a solo and ensemble festival.
I did not like that thing. (Sorry if it’s your favorite) (no, I mean if it’s your favorite, I’m sorry).
It was bear to learn and not very pretty (in my humble opinion).
The worst part was after all that work the young man canceled at the last minute.
Then again, maybe that was the best part.
I’m Always Stuck Inside
I live in Cleveland Ohio.
One nice spring day the violin teacher at the studio where I work took his students outside to play near the garden.
Classical Music is Hard
Classical music is hard. I have to play exactly what the composer wrote. Note for note, rhythm for rhythm.
I have to tackle finger busting complicated pieces of Liszt, and Chopin. What about Beethoven Sonatas? I need to at least know a few of those. Right?
And then there’s the WTC!! Two volumes of the WTC.
Seriously Mr. Bach, with all due respect, wouldn’t one volume have been enough?
No pedaling to worry about with the WTC that’s one saving grace anyway.
Classical music may be hard but Jazz?
Can you say mind-bending? Maybe it’s like Chinese (or any other foreign language that uses a totally different system of writing) if you grow up with it it’s second nature,
or maybe first nature.
I never understood why they say second nature for something you’ve learned first. Breathing is second nature, what’s first nature? Danged if I know… Anyway, I digress.
I could write a whole post about Jazz.
You know the circle of fifths?
It’s now the circle of fourths.
Are you used to seeing the key signature written on every line of music?
Forget that too, they only put it on the first line.
Like seeing a bass clef with notes?
And the worst part…
playing with the metronome set on beats 2 & 4
Remember what I said about classical music following everything the composer wrote to the T.
Now you have to make it up.
All I can say to a classical player learning Jazz, I hope you paid attention and music theory class.
I was thinking what we need is a hybrid genre. You get all of the music written out like in classical music, but you don’t have to follow it exactly. You can pick and choose. Leave out the hard parts if you want.
Yeah, that’s the ticket!
So, there you have it. 19 reasons I hate the piano.
Before you get too freaked out.
There are a million reasons I love the piano.
That post will be next.
But don’t worry I’ll keep the list to 10 or 20.
Once in a while, I think it’s good to take a step back and inject some jocularity into the situation.
I love you keyboard people!! Happy Holidays!
Time for me to cut the kvetching and the jokes and get back to practicing!
By the way.
Here’s the book. It will make you smile.
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