No age limits when it comes to playing piano


Lots of folks skip the credits and head for the nearest exit when a movie ends.

But it seems that wasn't the case with this year's Best Picture Academy Award nominee "The Pianist," the story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew caught in the Nazi occupation who found the strength to survive by playing the music of Frederic Chopin.

At the film's closing, the camera lingers in closeup on the slender hands of Janusz Olejniczak performing one of the Polish composer's stirring pieces.

"What mattered was the emotional impact. No one moved or wanted to leave as the credits rolled and the piano piece played on," a New Jersey filmgoer wrote of the film's captivating close.

I was among the theatergoers who sat mesmerized as the elegiac strains of Chopin echoed Szpilman's redemption.

I was quick to buy the soundtrack, for listening again to the music I see those skilled hands moving across the keyboard.

I'm not an envious woman, but I do have regrets. Not learning to play the piano is one of them.

When I was well into my 30s, I tried really, I did.

There sat I, the musical nerd, at the rent-to-buy Baldwin spinet, not a rhythmic bone in my body none too adept at math either thumping out a beat, struggling to finger chords, to recognize a sharp from a flat, stymied by those squiggly little marks on the staff.

I had too little rhythm, too late in life, to play a simple lullaby, let alone the Rachmaninoff Third Piano.

Coordination, please

Music teacher Serge Romanchak proves my point and justifies my reasons for quitting in a Washington Post piece on adult onset pianists.

"The coordination it takes, the eye and hand movement, the physical dexterity, gets more and more difficult as you get older," said Romanchak.

Amen, brother!

Add impatience to the mix, and it's easy to figure why adults shy away from Piano 101, another music teacher, Roger Coleman, said in the same article.

Adults "understand exactly what they have to do, but their fingers won't execute," said Coleman. "Whereas kids, if they can play 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' with one hand, they're pretty happy."

The Union Democrat
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