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March 21, 2009

Czerny's Revenge

March 21. Day Day 264.

Czerny. Light of my life, fire of my fingers. My sin, my soul. Czer-ny: the tip of the fingers tapping thrice as the tongue taps twice to enounce your maddening name. Czer, as in Cher, Ny as in Niet. Not dear, dear...

His first name was Carl, but to me he was, and will always be, Czerny.

(With apologies to Nabokov.)

I sat down this afternoon and did some Czerny exercises. For those of you who were blessed with piano lessons, this name will surely be familiar to you, as well as to your neighbors. Up and down the keyboard, skipping a note. Back down, skipping two. Over and over. And over. (see below.)

All in the name of strength, dexterity, flexibility and discipline.


Now, Czerny wasn't the hotshot of the musical world. He studied under Beethoven and was a respected teacher. But he was no, how you say, maestro.

Yet look how content he looks, almost stifling a smile beneath those taut lips, that impertinent tuft of hair, that hopeful gaze of his. Could strength, dexterity, flexibility and discipline be the key to inner peace? Fulfillment? Fortune? (He did die a wealthy man, thanks to his music, and late in composer years: 66!)

No. I'll tell you why he's smiling. Because unlike Beethoven and Shostakovich, who are enjoyed by only the most skilled of pianists, Czerny actually gets play. Daily. All over the world. Thousands of hands everywhere, doing his bidding. If that's not a sure path to immortality, I don't know what is.

Well, as I attempted to decipher those notes of his, my fingers stumbled something awful. (Wow -- I would never say that sentence in real life, so what would I write it? I will keep it here, if only to document the wild and zany experiment that is this blog.)

But it was still playing, of sorts, and it felt amazing.

Why am I telling you this?

Because for the first time in years, I was playing on my very own piano!

And to get to this happy point, of course I asked for something.

Now that I live in a house and I'm planning on staying here a while, my mom suggested I take my piano. Years ago, she moved it to the garage, deeming it too ugly for the living room. ("I don't have room for it anymore," she explained gingerly, but with a little prodding I found out the real reason. No problem. I was at college and never touched it when I came home, so why shouldn't she replace it with a pair of bookcases?)

An hour ago, a pair of brawny movers delivered it to my house, and here we are now. Before, when I called to schedule the move and asked for a quote, the mover asked what other figures I'd heard.

"Why don't you give me a quote first?" I replied.


"Really. I've gotten $100."

"Alright, $100."

Gained: Sort of $25. I definitely had heard $100 from other movers, but I wanted to use these guys since they were available first. So actually, I saved a week, not $25. Either way -- I'm thrilled!
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