A pianist is a man or a woman. A piano is a machine. If there is no understanding between them the musical result of their relationship will be nil. Therefore, experience teaches us that some degree of sympathetic understanding must be and always is established. Complete sympathy, however, is rare. In some instances the pianist's attitude towards the mechanism of his instrument develops into a vaguely self-conscious lack of interest: 'I know I ought to learn something about how the thing works, but I haven't got the time to go into it. One day perhaps I may get around to it, read a book or something. . . . ' In the course of time, however, this attitude changes into an indifference about which he may eventually become quite proud. Simultaneously with the development of these peculiar notions, the real defence mechanisms begin to appear. 'If I listen carefully, ' he says, 'and know exactly what kind of sound each different key and pedal movement will produce, this is enough for all musical purposes. Why learn more?'
A number of answers are possible to this question. Only a pianist who has a thorough knowledge of the construction and working of his instrument could:
- Tell a good instrument from an indifferent one.
- Understand the technical language of the piano tuners, repairers, makers, etc.
- Select a good instrument when about to make a purchase.
- Take an intelligent interest in the historical background of keyboard instruments and understand their growth from the days of 'jacks' to those of 'hammers'.
- Take an intelligent interest in the modern revival of early instruments and the 'period' performances given on them.
- Make full musical use of the keys, hammers, dampers and pedals. Establish a complete unity between himself and his instrument.