Their piano room is not unlike the one I enjoyed growing up in; a sunny room where board games and books had a home. It is a room of comfy couches and framed family photos. It is where people gather to talk, play tournaments of Scrabble, watch television, play video games and of course listen and play music. Their piano room feels like home to me; full of life and memories.
I can tell within 5 minutes, if a practice environment will inspire or not. If no one including the family cat or dog doesn’t know of a spot to relax near the piano, chances are naming that particular spot the music room will not be a place to think and practice. If only dust bunnies feel welcome in the room while everyone else socializes in another room, chances are practice will feel as lonely as a book forgotten in a corner.
For a young learner, will it not be against their best interest to have the piano in an active space? Shouldn’t the piano be in a more formal and quiet space away from the distraction of family life?
I’ve taught in a home where a beautiful baby grand Steinway graced a formal gathering part of the home. It was austere with not a dust bunny in sight. A beautiful place to have a family concert. Still, it was not an easy place for little boys to naturally bring themselves. My students were the youngest boys of a large family. The tumbling and full of energy sort. They literally came into their piano lesson each week through the back garden, breathless from playing outside. They were fine and full of cheer during our piano time together but I am not quite sure they entered the room in the same spirit when I wasn’t there.
I never had a quiet formal room to practice.
I had a small keyboard that I played in my room but it never got the kind of love that I had for the piano in the family room. I didn’t mind the bustle. The piano rooms at school lent some solitude but not quiet. The reality of life was that absolute quiet and privacy was a treat and not the norm.
And so I survived having a piano, television AND family computer in the same room. Sometimes my piano competed against video game music as my brothers played across the room. Sometimes I enjoyed the luxury of having the room to myself while they played outside. Most of the time my brothers and I exercised some form of social diplomacy.
A piano isn’t LOUD LOUD. Conversations and television programs can still continue and share sound space. I know playing didn’t always refrain my mom from wanting to start a conversation asking me if I’d eaten or done all my homework.
I managed sharing practice space.
Conquering distraction is a daily exercise; a good one for young people to learn and perhaps easier for a young person to consider than feelings of isolation or missing out feelings. Put them in a room where they are out of earshot of all family activity; it may feel too much like their punitive time outs.
A place to relax, to think and to share…and feel very much at home.
K: ”I just need a little table next to my piano so I can have a snack and glass of water nearby. That would be perfect.”
I like hearing how my students set up camp to practice.