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Piano Lessons: Music, Love, and True Adventures Paperback – March 10, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Delta (March 10, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385318219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385318211
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #363,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The difference between the piano lessons Noah Adams took and the ones most of us took was that he was 51, not 7, and -- lucky Noah -- his mother didn't make him practice. This is not only a delightful account of his twelve-month nose-to-the-grindstone attempt to learn to play the $11,000 Steinway he bought on a whim, but also the story of his many-year process of falling in love with music and its history. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

"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!"
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Hey, Noah Adams, if you don't have the time to put it to use, send me the piano!
Amy
In music, as in writing, achieving an air of effortlessness distinguishes a true master.
Robin Meloy Goldsby
The process of learning a musical instrument is a journey, and Noah tells us of his.
Bron Mitchell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Bron Mitchell on April 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
I am confused and disappointed by other reviews of this book that claim Noah Adams went about learning the piano all wrong. Readers who were hoping for hints about practice and technique have missed out on a thoroughly good read, all because of their misguided approach to this wonderful story of one man's musical quest. This is not a "how to" book, and nor should it be.
What makes this book such a treasure is the exact same thing as what one reviewer callously calls "banal fluff": talking about his wife, his love for a piece of music that he longs to play but fears he can't, his experiences of meeting and talking with other musicians, his knowledge of pianos and of music in general, and his passion and appreciation for music of many styles. The process of learning a musical instrument is a journey, and Noah tells us of his. From the first chapter, when he talks of the secret desire he has held for years to buy a piano, to the last chord of Schumann's `Träumerei' which he plays as a Christmas present for his wife, this book entranced me with the joys and the struggles of learning to play an instrument. Yes, he may have got there faster if he'd spent more time practicing and less time procrastinating, but chances are the results would have been far less rewarding, and the book would certainly have been far less interesting.
Ultimately, if you genuinely have a passion for music, there is no right or wrong way to go about learning. Noah did it this way, and he got there in the end. Who are we to criticise?
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Marianne on May 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
After reading most of the reviews, it seems that people had different expectations of the book and sometimes read it for the wrong purpose. I don't believe Mr. Adams wrote the book as a guide for people on how to buy a piano and learn to play it. It was more of an account of his love of music, his family, his career, and how he managed to juggle all three at once. I totally agree that if you're looking for a book that will show you how to seriously learn to play the piano, this is not it.
This book is--to me--inspiring and delightful in every way. I didn't run across any boring passages, nor did I ever want to skip any of it. It was beautifully written and I loved every word.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By goldsheld on May 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
I think it is misleading that some have written very poor reviews of "Piano Lessons" by Noah Adams. They say the book does not have enough material about how to play the piano, or that he does not have enough patience to learn to play, and the book minimizes how much hard work it takes to play.

But the goal of this book is not to teach one to play piano. It is to trace an adult's foray into piano playing. Mr. Adams chose to begin by using a book rather than hiring a teacher. Though hiring a teacher would be a far better way to begin, by reading his story one can learn a great deal. Because he didn't just hire a teacher, we learn about all his travels through piano educational techniques and materials. We learn of Denise Kahn who teaches adults on the upper west side of Manhattan- this in fact is how I found Denise, through this book- and she is a superb teacher. We read of the Van Der Lindes piano camp for adults. Mistakenly I tried to locate them in NY rather than Vermont, so I was not successful. But I did learn of Bruce Potterton's Summerkeys program in Maine, from Denise, and spent a very valuable week there. The progress one can make in an intensive week in the summer is powerful, and will reinforce your desire to continue studying. Finally, the material with Ned Phoenix makes clear how good used instruments can be, often superior to new ones, even if they need a rebuild. I in fact, bought a used Kranich and Bach for $400. The tone is wonderful and it holds a tuning real well. It is worth around $2,000.

If you want to learn HOW to play piano i.e. technique, buy other books. If you want to read about lots of ways adults can learn piano and supplement their private lessons, and read a book with feeling that will encourage you to practice and truly learn to play well, then I highly recommend Piano Lessons.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robin Meloy Goldsby on March 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
Noah Adams enchanted me with his touching--and at times very amusing--memoir of learning to play a deceptively simple piece of music on the piano.

I read this book years ago, when it was recommended to me by pianist Robin Spielberg. At the time, Piano Lessons struck me as the first prose I had encountered that accurately described the rush of elation musicians experience when successfully conquering the chaos of a difficult phrase. On a second read-through, almost a decade after its publication, Adams' words remain as crisp and as playful as a perfectly played arpeggio. This is a writer who hears what he writes. He has a musician's ear and a writer's sensibility--a rare combination.

In music, as in writing, achieving an air of effortlessness distinguishes a true master. It's not easy to describe joys of music, but Adams pulls it off with a lightness that will inspire the secret musician lurking in the hearts of so many adults.

Robin Meloy Goldsby is the author of Piano Girl: A Memoir
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lucinda Burr on November 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
What a wonderful, uplifting, book! Having begun playing the piano again after nearly 40 years away from it, I found myself enjoying Noah Adams descriptions of his joys and frustrations, exhaulting in his successes, and actually learning a few things to boot.
A number of people ranted about the fact that Adams spent 11K on a piano. Having diddled around on a number of pianos before purchasing a used Yamaha upright, I can attest to the fact that there are pianos that can not only make even badly played music sound good but seem to call out to you when you touch them. Adams was in the fortunate position of being able to afford a piano that "spoke" to him, despite his somewhat unorthodox method of learning to play it.
For an entertaining, enjoyable read, I definitely recommend Piano Lessons.
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