I had hopes, but you never know how these things are going to turn out. Luckily, our little piano party turned out nicely. About fifteen people showed up, in windy weather with a storm front moving in. It can take some courage to drive those freeways in the face of a Pacific storm, so just walking in the door showed some dedication. I could have seated maybe another ten comfortably, so that was perfect; we had plenty of space.
The people who came didn't know everyone else who was there, but everyone knew at least some of the people... so, we all had a foot in two worlds, and that worked out. The piano was in good voice and the room sounded good; people played who wanted to play, and those who didn't, listened. Yes, I later regretted not stepping up to the keyboard; some of the guests were disappointed... but I wouldn't have made them play, if they weren't feeling it. After all, it's just for fun.
Two people decided they wanted to buy a piano of their own--- I wasn't expecting that. One, with ten years of lessons but a recent lapse, wants to upgrade from her little spinet; another, a former conservatory student, found herself yearning for a grand. And a third person wanted a piano like my RX5... if his wife would let him jettison his two present grands. One guest is interested in buying one of his. A little horse-trading always spices up a gathering... but, not to worry; he was very clear, "The marriage comes first," and quite right. I met his wife, and no man would trade her happiness for all the pianos in the world.
But credit where it's due: Dave has turned my factory-issue workhorse into a triple-crown contender. Who knows if I'll be able to get there, but he's used his skill as a technician and player to put her in place to run for the roses. With the top up and the music desk down, the voice really comes out. So, if all that inspires people to go for it, I call it good.
Anyway, the bottom line was that everyone there was interested in music and pianos, so we were united by a common love. The neighbors did not complain; the police did not come; and outside, when I walked a guest to her car, there was music and laughter; it sounded like a fun party.
Turns out that pianists pretty much ignored the chardonnay, Calistoga water, coffee, melon slices, and sparkling cider and went for the Napa Valley cabs, pinots, and merlots. They ate up the bacon quiche, fresh strawberries, homemade pound cake, salad, chips and dips, and enchilda casserole. I was happy, as long as no one went hungry and thirsty. Once they were introduced to each other and showed where things were, the party took on a life of its own and needed no more help.
One lady was thrilled when my little dog, Jack, ate a piece of quiche from her hand. Jack was a rescue dog who had been terribly mistreated; he is a very loving and affectionate animal, but shy about strangers... and so handsome, with his dark black-and-white tuxedo good looks, unusual for a Basenji. I was fairly amazed. Even with a prize food treat, he's one that it takes a very special touch to get him to come near. Her delighted smile showed me that she has the heart to make it happen.
Roxie was power-flirting with a guest--- I had to caution her about it: "He's a married man, Rox; take it easy." Buddy, who just loves girls, snuggled up in my piano teacher's lap. She can be serious about her craft, but she was gracious about being turned into a human armchair. Basenjis have a way of sighing with contentment, almost purring like a cat. I could hear him, even over the piano on full-stick.
If you've never heard of a Basenji, you could check basenjirescue.org. The lady who imported the first one from Africa said, "He was a dog of great character--- hardly any of it good." Actually their character is quite wonderful, as long as you go with the performance envelope as it exists. The same could be said of quite a few musicians. But none of the dogs jumped up on the refreshment table, and neither did the guests; none of them had to be put out.
Pardon me if this seems too much about dogs. When you mix species, it pays to keep a sharp eye on the goings-on; segregating them in the garden did not turn out to be a workable plan.
We were entertained with keyboard works that boxed the compass from Beethoven to the bossa nova and beyond, ranging from the theme of "The Simpsons," selections from Beethoven, cocktail piano classics, "Charlie Brown" theme music, dinner jazz standards, some choice ragtime numbers, and a four-hands rendering of "The Girl from Ipanema," where the pianists actually got up in mid-song and traded positions on the bench. Performance majors, and very smooth--- definitely an aura of partnership there. Some people really are naturals at it.
Finally, the rains just misted down a bit, freshening up the air; maybe the roads were a bit slick, but when it came time to say goodbye at least I didn't have to put anyone out into the storm.
I am so grateful to everyone who came and made it such a wonderful evening... and also to those who weren't able to come, but sent their good wishes. Seems to me, it paid off. I think if more people knew you could do this, MTV would find itself in some trouble.