“I’m conscious that Michael is gazing intently at my feet, which is very off-putting. I know what’s coming, ‘Alan, we have a problem with the pedalling,’ he sighs at the end. ‘It used to be the fingering. Now it’s the pedals.’ He’s right. I have been sinning with the pedals. Time to slow down. Again. And work something out from scratch. Again.” (Play it Again by Alan Rusbridger)
Cookbooks, fishing books, pet breeding books, sewing books, amateur piano books, books about other books – these all belong to that wonderful genre of hobby books. Ostensibly, you read them to get more information about how to practice your beloved hobby, but in reality you read them because the next best thing to practicing your hobby is reading about it. Can’t practice welding at work? Grab a book. Can’t cook on a flight? Drool over a cookbook. By the same logic, if you can’t practice piano at work, you could still take this pretentious, overly wordy, yet still somehow interesting, book to read.
If you were to pick Play it Again up as a non-musical adult, you would come away with no clue whatsoever why any adult would ever practice music. For Alan Rusbridger, each act of memorization is impossible and worth three pages of complaining. Each criticism by each teacher almost causes a breakdown. If playing piano were that hard, and gave that little enjoyment, no one would ever do it. He does, however, manage to get the old enthusiasm up for every other aspect of piano playing – interviewing famous pianists, looking at old pianos, sight reading other piano pieces – which is what makes the book compelling for anyone deprived of the instrument itself. I only wish I could find a book like Play it Again, except where the author enjoys music, practicing, and piano. Any suggestions?
Buy – Borrow – TBR – Avoid
Incidental Learning: Chopin, modern piano performers, piano as an instrument
Further Reading: Other hobby books. My favorite are cookbooks, and of those, my favorite is An Everlasting Meal.