24 September 2007

Do, re, mi oh my

So, we bought a piano. It's not, shall we say, something one typically expects to do on a regular old Friday afternoon.

But the Victor Horta House Museum, which we thought would occupy our time until our dinner reservation, actually only took about an hour (being rather more "house" than "museum").

Whiling away the rest of the afternoon meant strolling through the Chatelain neighborhood, and in the Chatelain neighborhood, on the same street as the museum, there is a huge secondhand shop called Les Petits Riens (The Little Nothings).

We had our eyes peeled for a sofa or a coffee table, and didn't see anything. However, we saw a piano. Two, actually.

I should mention here that my mother was with us, and I should mention that my mother is a pianist by trade. We started playing the pianos, and noticing that they were only 200 euros. We also noticed that one was both decidedly more antique than the other AND decidedly of richer sound, tuning, and all around beauty. This is where my mom came in: she knows what to look for (uncracked sounding board? good. a cracked key? replacable. tight tuning pins? good. a couple stuck keys? no problem.) and she helped us realize that yes, we could buy a piano in a random thrift shop on a regular old Friday afternoon.

Then the friendly people at the store started to realize that we might actually take one of these pianos off their hands, and they reduced the price by another 25 euros, while pointing out that they had originally priced it at 500, and had no idea what it was really worth (hinting that maybe it was worth a lot more than that).

Nervously (can one really buy a piano, just like that?), we handed them the credit card and were the proud owners of a beautiful antique piano.

Now, here's the rub: one can't exactly take a piano home in one's back pocket. After a few phone calls the following morning, we discovered that transporting the piano up to our fourth-floor apartment was going to cost us more money than we paid for the piano in the first place. Most companies wanted us to rent a furniture lift, which is very expensive and involves reserving the street in front of our house from the town government etc. etc. We did find some professional piano movers who were willling to CARRY the thing up our stairs (heaven help their backs), and so we paid them to do so.

And then waited. All of this happened, let's see, over THREE weeks ago. And we're still waiting for our piano. After numerous phone calls and e-mails and consternation-ful conversations with the piano people, it appears that at long last, TODAY is the day. The piano was due to arrive twenty minutes ago (the dudes called me earlier this morning), so I am holding my breath and crossing my fingers (you know, to limber them up for the scales I'm going to be practicing shortly).

Our neighbors are probably going to hate us, but I am hopping-up-and-down to have a piano. Last time I was home and played a bit, I could tell I had lost so much of what I had (which wasn't a whole lot to begin with, to be honest), after years of having nowhere to play. I'm looking forward to sharpening up some piano chops, and also to being able to practice my choir music without having to resort to a. awkward solo pitch-guessing, b. singing along with recorded versions of the pieces, or c. attempting to use an "internet piano" by which you click on keys in sequence to get a computery approximation of the melody. (Believe me, it's not worth the trouble.)

So here's to secondhand shops, and piano chops. May the piano be light on their backs, and may it come within the hour.


Abella said...

OMG, its my 4th try to post this comment! And i had to retape it everytime :( one could notice its shorter and shorter :)
Well, I found your blog when I was googling for the place where I could play piano. After your impulsive purchase story I got interested in buying one as well.
Could you please tell where exactly this store is situated and maybe I can go for the remaining one.
Thank you very much!

Robin said...

Hi Abella!

We got it at Les Petits Riens, on Rue Américaine. Their website is here:


You should be able to find their phone number and call to see if the pianos we saw are still there. (I think my husband said the last time he was there he saw yet another one, similar to the one we bought.)

Abella said...

Thank you very much!
hope we will have some luck as well :)