For some strange reason, clinics tend to have pianos in them. I’m not sure why as the number of patients who can play the piano is limited, and most patients do not travel with their music, unless they are professional musicians.
I am not a professional musician, but I studied the piano from the age of 9 until 18 and did all the exams with the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music. Music has always been a part of my life since, as a hobby. I was once given the incredible opportunity to page-turn for Murray Perahia and the Amadeus String Quartet, and Myung-Whun Chung.
I have a mind that finds it hard to switch off, and when I play the piano, I am focused and present and a part of the music. I’ve played on a number of different pianos, including a Yamaha upright, I started off with a Challen, and ended up with a very nice Marshall & Rose which had a really sonorous bass.
I currently play on a Roland digital piano [I can hear the purists sneering!] but it’s good enough for my needs at the moment, although two keys need repairing as they don’t play. A digital piano means I can plug in earphones and play without disturbing the neighbours. It’s also got a nice drumbox so I can play pop and jazz.
Here is a list of pianos I have played while staying or visiting clinics, in terms of ranking:
1. Joint First – Hotel zum Lowen, Duderstadt, Germany. [home of Prof Nesslehut of Dendritic Vaccine fame] – Kawai Baby Grand
The best piano I played on was in the Hotel zum Lowen in Duderstadt, Germany. It was a Kawai baby grand. It was a bit brilliant in terms of sound and heavy on the action, but it was in tune and all the keys were well graduated. The only problem was that it was in the dining room, and I only got to play it for 15 mins.
2. Joint first – GcMAF clinic, Switzerland – Steinway Baby Grand
This was a truly beautiful piano, a 1924 Steinway Baby Grand. Beautiful walnut wood. The keys looked like they were ivory. The action was far lighter than most baby grands I’ve played. It was a touch uneven, and the soft pedal wasn’t working, but it was in tune and very sensitive. A joy to play in terms of responsiveness and clarity of voice. This piano sang, like the treasure it was. And the interior of the clinic was perfect for acoustics with its grand hallway and high ceilings and beautiful antique finishes. Best of all, I got to play the piano for several hours, as a command performance for the clinic’s owner. Chopin never sounded better. Very grateful to DN.
This is my dream piano, the one I would buy if I won the lottery.
3. Hallwang Private Oncology Clinic, the Black Forest, Germany – German piano upright
I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember what make this piano was, it was something that sounded authoritatively Teutonic. It suffered from a few sticky keys which made it a challenge to play, and needed a good tuning. But I was grateful and it put up with my playing. I suffered from terrible insomnia and stress during my stay there, and the piano was my therapy. It was located in the dining room area, so I could only play when the patients weren’t having meals. I also played in the middle of the night, I closed the door to the dining room and put the soft pedal on and played until my demons were soothed.