Friday, 10 June 2011

I is for.... Instruments!

I’ve posted previously about my piano, so I shan’t go into detail on that again. Suffice it to say that my Yamaha Clavinova is good enough now, but one day I would love to own a proper Steinway & Sons grand piano. We saw a program on TV the other day about how they are made, and I went looking online to see how much they cost. I found one restored antique grand piano on sale for £75,000!!! So I guess I’ll just stick with my cheapy electronic upright for now.

The piano isn’t the only instrument in the house though. As a child, I learned to play the violin, but had to give up after I broke my wrist in a rather unfortunate accident (more on that, later in the month!). I don’t really regret much about not having played the instrument all these years; I haven’t touched it since I was about 14, when I was brought out of ‘retirement’ to take part in the school Eisteddfod as my house didn’t have anyone to enter the individual instrumental competition. Which I won, by the way, royally peeing off my fellow entrants who were all very serious about their instruments! The one regret I do have, is that the instrument that I own belonged to my grandfather, and it is a real shame I can’t make use of it. So I keep it, hoping that perhaps in the future a child of mine will express the desire to play the violin, and it can one day be theirs.
My instruments are not the only instruments in the house. Jamie, too, is a musician (a much better one than me, as he studied Music at university and actually made a career out of playing his instrument professionally for a while). Jamie plays the cello and the double bass, so we have one of each instrument in the house as well.
The cello isn’t particularly special, it’s just a nice instrument. But the double bass is something else altogether. It’s over 150 years old, was made in Italy (possibly for Bottesini) and has had a very interesting life, spending a fair amount of time being used by the St Pauls Girls School where Gustav Holst taught. It is very likely that Holst himself played the instrument while it and he were at the school. Jamie eventually acquired it after it had been recovered from the school in poor condition, and restored back to its former glory. He used it during his master’s degree, and when he made a living from playing professionally. It’s been all over the world with him.

We’re also very lucky to have a recording of Jamie playing it, four tracks on a CD he commissioned for a present to give to his parents. If you are interested, you can listen to some recordings I've uploaded to the web:

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful bass there!  Amazing how he knew how to restore and recondition it.  What fabulous history it has.  You could always take violin lessons again.   Liked how you kicked butt in that competition!  You go!
    I learned flute in 4th & 5th grade and played all through 8th grade.  I competed for and was first chair in 8th and got to play w/the choir.  My grandmother taught me the bass clef on her baby grande.  I started lessons, used an electronic piano at first, and then she bought me a Baldwin Classic from the Steinway & Sons store.  I played piano for five more years.  I miss it sometimes and do have some muscle memory.  I used to have Fur Elise, Moonlight Sonata, and Phantom of the Opera memorized; sigh, how those were the days.  I now have Mommy Brain!
    My eldest took lessons and had real potential.   Her teacher who was an accomplished pianist in China said she was the best five year old student she's had.  Unfortunately my daughter would have teenage like fits about practicing so she quit.  Oh well, I refused to be a Tiger Mom and left it at that.


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