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.