Skip to content

Let’s buy a Piano

April 9, 2010
Ever since I brought my daughter to a friend for home-schooling at the Previte’s, my wife has been suggesting that we should get a keyboard (88-key) or an organ or piano or something.  Because I told her our daughter played "Twinkle twinkle little star" while I was observing his kids home-schooled.

"Did you help her?  Did the Previte notice her?"

Both answers were "No".  She was playing (in the living room where the piano is) and it was loud enough to hear it from the "school desk" in the dining room.

Immediately, I looked up the prizes for a piano and keyboard.  A good upright piano could cost us $2,780 while a so-so one cost approximately one and a half grand.  Of course we will have no money for a grand piano, not even a baby grand piano.  And I heard transporting a piano by professions is really, really expensive too.  Thinking about the cost to go home this summer, I estimated we probably have enough to buy something less than a thousand dollars.

The idea of a keyboard crossed my mind.  At least it’s lighter and cost nothing to transport.  We visited the local music store and there, even the cheapest keyboard (Yamaha of course) is about a few grands!  I looked at TARGET and they sell new digital pianos for only a thousand dollars.  "Digital Piano?"  Isn’t that a keyboard?  Or worse than a keyboard?  How can a so-called Digital Piano be cheaper than a keyboard?  Even though the brand was "Suzuki Contemporary", I find it hard to compare apple to apple.  Then our good friend who bought a keyboard many years ago suggested "Buat anak-anak, beli keyboard aja, lah! "(just buy a keyboard!)   Hers was bought more than 8 years ago and it was left there to collect dust.  Initially, she bought it to learn to play music for the church.

I have never learned any music in my life.  Except for the recorder we were supposed to buy in Secondary school days, music is not something I would play.  My family would make enough noise to blow the roof up when I requested to buy a relatively good badminton racket!  So music (or for that matter learning to drive) is just for the well-to-do.  As a child, I quickly drew a line to anything that cost more than my monthly school fee.  Until I gave private tutoring, I never bought anything.  In fact, to help my family stinginess to give me money, I even avoided buying textbooks.  So I bought only ONE Linear Algebra book for the entire 4 years in the University!  I still remember it was S$7.40.  But I will not subject my child or my wife to what I had gone through.  I am not expecting our child to be a musician, but she will have the opportunity to touch or play that beautiful sounding instrument.

This worry over a poor father has to end.  Somehow, fast forward 6 weeks, now we own a used upright piano bought from Craiglist; transported with the help of a friend using a trailer which he usually used for transporting firewood.  I helped carry the piano with my friend and was surprised something so tiny could weigh closed to 800 pounds!  I cannot imagine what a grand piano would weigh.  Throughout the whole trip, I was worried what damages I would cause to that used piano.  I probably need to spend hundreds of dollars again asking a professional to tune it again.

My daughter was so surprised with joy when we brought that used un-tuned piano home.  She played on it for hours on the first few days.  She keep asking me if we were rich.  I asked her what she thinks.  As a five-year-old, her answers were, "yes, we are rich in music!"  and "rich in love".  I don’t know if she know what that really meant.  She’s still 5 years old.  She will have as much fun as she wants, I taught her to read the C note and the F note on the Treble Clef.  I tried not to introduce anything too academic to her until she turns 9.  Here is her "twinkle, twinkle little star":

Here is her "Do Re Mi" video


For two weeks, I spent a few hours every day learning Music Theory and practicing finger-warming exercise.  And I practice very hard on 1st and 2nd inverses of C-major chord.  Even while driving to school, I would practice my fingering with my right hand while driving with my left hand.  With free videos and free music lesson on the internet, I am able to read music scores.  I still kept an imaginary flashcard in my brain (yes, my memory is still as good as when I was in my teens) and flashcard myself musical notes on the Treble Clef or the Bass Clef and see if I could answer them correctly each time.  One has no time to think or calculate which key to play, being able to co-ordinate between what you see on the musical scores and what you play instantly in crucial, I thought. 

Between vacuuming and doing the laundry, I’ll steal some time to practice.  Between doing my few miles jogging and tilling the soil in the garden, I take 15 minutes to practice.  Between lunch and afternoon tea, I’ll do the fingering warm-up exercise. (you get the idea now?) All these just for the basics.   I think the basics are extremely important, it reminds me of my days mastering the hiragana (ひらがな) and katagana.(カタカナ).  No hesitation, the answer has to be quick and accurate.

Now I can also do the blue keys.


I remember Confucius was introduced to music only in a very late part of his life.  And he liked it so much, he delved into it (to the point of neglecting his teachings and Analects to his students).  Is it true to my life too?  But I really, really enjoy every bit of learning what I’m doing now.  Once I was crazy about learning Japanese (I think I was in my 30s then) and in a year could watch "MAISON IKKOKU" without subtitle (now I forgot most of my Japanese).  In my first year in Toronto (I was 26), I would speak nothing but Cantonese (to Hongkonger), a language I could only understand 70% on TV.  By that year’s end, I was fluent and never lost it.  How far would I go this time?


From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: