Piano Lessons

Noah Adams, Author
Noah Adams, Author Delacorte Press $20.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-385-31404-6
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-385-31821-1
Paperback - 264 pages - 978-0-7838-1985-3
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""It is my dream, when I touch the keys, to release the notes. It is music waiting there,"" writes Adams in this delightful recreation of the year he recently spent trying to learn to play the piano and, most specifically, trying to master Robert Schumann's Traumerei. The experience may have been frustrating for the author, but he is such an unself-conscious raconteur that he catches the reader's sympathy and amusement at his befuddlement as to why he, a 51-year-old, would be so foolhardy as to suddenly spend $11,375 for an instrument he neither knows how to play nor, given the pressures of his job as host of NPR's All Things Considered, has time to practice. Figuring that he has only 20 minutes a day to devote to activities unrelated to his work, he sets out to become a pianist, first studying with a computer program, then a sight-reading system on tapes and finally, in the most captivating episode here, at a 10-day adult music school in Vermont run by the family of the saleswoman who sold him his Steinway. Adams interrupts his practice sessions throughout the book to reminisce about pianists he admires, educate us about keyboard instruments, tell us about his domestic life with his wife, Neenah, and about his job and related travels. At year's end he feels confident enough to play the Schumann for his wife as a Christmas present. A piece Horowitz could play in two minutes and 32 seconds Adams needs 20 minutes to complete. No matter, for his performance brings his audience of readers to its feet with shouts of ""Bravo!"" (Mar.)
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