SoulPath Art: Tuning the Vibration

Hello fellow soul-time travelers,

This post is not about artwork....it's a story about a piano. I was guided to write this as a cathartic part of the inner journey. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving witness.

As you know, my first love is piano. I began asking for lessons at age 2 and after three years of persistence, my parents finally acquiesced. I very quickly informed them that I needed a "proper piano" because the little keyboard they initially gave me did not have "enough keys." (Who knows how I knew that...)

Fast forward to post-grad school. I was gifted a 1939 Steinway baby grand to take to Colorado. The piano was full of charm and quirky features such as 6 tulip legs, ivory inlay, and ivory keys. (Features which I learned made this item not salable on EBay). As a collector's item, this baby grand was invaluable. However, as a performance and practice instrument, it fell very short....the hammers, strings, and action all needed replacement. (We're talking upwards of 20K of repairs).

Nevertheless, I was happy to accept the gift because of the name "Steinway." I consistently believed that the name alone guaranteed superiority over any other instruments. I was very outspoken and dogmatic about Steinway was the best piano. To me, Steinway was the top. If you have to play anything else in a concert, you'd might as well go home. 

In other words, I was so attached to the idea of a brand that I was not seeing true value. I was allowing a name to tell me what was acceptable.....regardless of how the instrument actually sounded or felt under my fingers.

I knew my own 1939 Steinway would need repairs to become a top-notch instrument. So I willingly forked over $7K to redo the mechanical action....and I was still not happy with the result. The piano action was not responding the way I wanted it to, and it still did not prepare me well for my performance gigs. No other piano I performed on responded like mine. I was also frustrated with the way it fell out of tune 4 hours after a tuning. Was it a guarantee that after rebuilding the rest, I would have a competitive, high-quality piano? Since I had already redone the action, the feel of the piano would not change....just the sound would improve with new strings etc. After pouring another 15K+ in, would I be happy with it? Would it help me get to the next level?

And then I had a dream. In this dream, I knew I had to sell the old piano so that I could get a newer, better one...but I was driving myself crazy going in circles trying to figure out how I could sell the old one, buy a new one, but still keep the old one. 

In my waking hours, I decided I it was time sell my old piano, though my psyche seemed unable to let it go completely. I assumed because it was a Steinway, I could ask a fairly high price for it. To my shock, I discovered that a non-refurbished Steinway is actually not that valuable! (At least not what I thought it ought to be worth). Apparently pianos older than 50 years are considered valuable only if they have had their guts rebuilt.

While I was in the middle of struggling with my emotions...because frankly, I felt insulted that the Steinway piano couldn't command a higher price, a new window opened. Through a complete coincidence, I found a gorgeous 7'6" Yamaha grand for sale...voiced exactly the way I like, a perfect sound, and with the heaver action that I love to play. And for a very very good price. So you're assuming I pounced on it, right?

It took another week and a half for me to process through the emotions of letting go of a Steinway instrument. And someone up in the sky has a sense of humor....over the next week, I played a full concert on a similar Yamaha grand and had a really positive, fulfilling performance because the instrument was so well-maintained. By contrast in the same week, I performed on 3 different poorly-maintained Steinway baby grands....and had a terrible time. I even got a really bad open wound on a cuticle from doing glissandos on one of them.

Finally at the end of this process, I have rearranged my house around that gorgeous 7'6" Yamaha, making a bold statement that the piano is an important part of my identity. Before, I was trying to hide it, like I was ashamed. (The old piano was crammed into a smaller dining room space). My first practice session on it was incredible....I could feel my technique refining, I could play with a bigger range of emotional colors, and I almost felt like the piano was playing the notes for me. I wasn't having to work at all. I didn't realize how much how much of an upgrade the Yamaha was from the Steinway. The sound is incomparable. I have also seen that upgrading my instrument has brought me to a higher standard of professionalism, and a much better, more enjoyable experience for my students and all those I collaborate with.

I am truly grateful to my guides and to those who have been placed in my path to help me learn and grow. I see that an outside label is not inner truth. The sound of the piano has been part of my vibration, part of my DNA since I was 2 years old. Because I finally understood that a brand-name doesn't guarantee value outright, I have an instrument that pushes me forward and upwards instead of holding me back. I hope that this new place brings even more opportunities to uplift the lives of others through music.

And I am thankful to YOU for making it all the way through. 

Wishing you love, light, and courage on your own next steps. Happy to listen anytime.

 My new partner.

My new partner.

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