Recently I was caught playing piano by the Piano Police. I have been going to a place where there are several pianos and playing ragtime music , without permission, whenever I happened to want to for weeks. It’s a place of business, so I was aware it could be disruptive to people there. I did it with the clear intention from the start of stopping if I was disturbing anyone.
And so I have. I was approached by a person who is “in charge”, first with a sort of casual, devil-may-care sort of attitude. They cloaked their mission of icebreaking on the subject of my crimes by offering to share their lunch sandwich. I was encouraged/advised, during this tete a tete, to get my own piano, or play other people’s pianos elsewhere. At the end of this involuntary conference, I was exhorted to “carry on” playing, after they were done speaking to me, which I did. This was a conciliatory, diplomatic gesture designed to keep waves from forming. I didn’t buy it for a minute.
A few days later, the crackdown came, delivered by the same person: I am to be “rescheduled” and charged $10 an hour for using the piano. The proverbial “We” was used. “We need to reschedule you”. I took this all in stride, but left, having a schedule I was on for that day. Upon reflection, I found myself unwilling to be scheduled or pay them, ending what was one of my longer piano practice streaks.
I find it deliciously ironic I have brought the “authority” of the piano liberators down on me, but I respect and appreciate what I’ve received. and will not play without permission again at their business.
During this experiment I have discovered that I am no longer willing to practice in isolation and never share what I’ve spent years learning. I love ragtime music, specifically those composed by classic ragtime composer Scott Joplin, who lived at the turn of the Century. I have his almost complete works. I’ve begun telling people this story, sharing that I want to play. My quest for pianos to play and sharing the music has begun. I’m patient. The music is within me and can’t be taken away by anyone.
I have some very good reasons why I don’t want my own piano at home. Been there and done that. They are heavy, hard to move, and require tuning and dusting. I know the man I live with well. He is mired in patterns of malnutrition and chronic emotional fear and negativity. If I had a piano and practiced regularly, he would be jealous of me having it and being happy playing it, and paranoid about it disturbing our neighbors. He would not mean to, but he would make it impossible for me to freely play it, therefore I don’t want one at home.
One of the best things that happened in my last grappling class was a hint from a woman blue belt in our class: She used the word “Thighmaster” to describe the way one can clamp their upper legs together when doing the classic arm bar. This is a valuable thing, because the image of Susanne Somers and her “Thighmaster” machine, while comic, is easy to remember and really works.