After the family had been here a couple of weeks ago to celebrate Weeza’s and Al’s birthdays, I went to play the piano, which the children had been using, and was quite dismayed. I hadn’t heard any major thumping that might have damaged it, but the notes carried on sounding as if the sustaining pedal was being held down. I peered inside, top and bottom, couldn’t see anything amiss but the problem continued. I put the situation aside for a bit in case I could work out the solution, rather than phone the piano tuner for yet another visit.
Yesterday, when Zerlina and Gus were here, I figured out the answer. I’ve not had the pianola for so long that I’d forgotten that there’s a switch to turn on the sustaining pedal, as the foot pedals are covered by the pianola pedals when they’re down – you can fold them out of the way when you don’t need them. So it’s just as well that I left it for a bit.
I have been enjoying playing the piano very much. I’m very poor at it, I never will be anything else now, but I can amuse myself. Yet the reason I took up the clarinet, when I was in my late thirties, was because I knew I’d never reach the standard (not high, frankly) I’d played at twenty years earlier. A couple of decades on, I seem to have lowered my sights. And now I seem to find the thought of bringing my standard of clarinet playing up is too daunting for the time being. At present, it really needs to be tuned and adjusted, I know that’s part of the problem, but I’ve been out of practice for years and the sustained effort required to improve markedly is daunting. And, though I’d find it easier to learn to play the clarinet really well than the piano, it’s easier to be not completely hopeless at the piano than the clarinet (it’s a matter of building up breath control and lip muscles as much as getting the right notes in the right order). I’m just too lazy, if I face facts.